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Friday 20 October 2017

Jamie Heaslip: Irish-English rivalry innate in us

Heaslip craves a confidence boost from trip to Wasps

Jaime Heaslip
Jaime Heaslip

Leinster host Wasps on Sunday. Munster visit Sale tomorrow. Ulster do likewise at Leicester Tigers.

What is it about the Irish-English rivalry? It never gets old and jaded. For supporters. Players even.

"It's always there. If we're going up against an English tiddlywinks team, I think it would be there," voiced Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip.

"It's just innate in us, isn't it?"

Heaslip will know exactly where the Irish-English count stands by Sunday. He would like nothing more than to witness a clean sweep.

"I love it when all the provinces do well over a weekend against English sides, or foreign sides, especially at this time of year when you've got the November internationals coming up around the corner as well.

"It just fills lads with confidence. It fills the different clubs with confidence. It fills the nation with confidence as well, to be honest."

Coach Dai Young has started a process of rebuilding Wasps back into a European force of old and he has taken big, bad Bradley Davies with him from Cardiff Blues as one of his enforcers.

"With Wasps coming over, they pride themselves on their pack being quite big, a big forwards game with a lot of pace out wide," noted Heaslip.

"From our point of view, we've got to negate that forward pack and it's going to be a big challenge for us.

"But, it always seems in Europe that whatever pack you go up against, they're a big bloody pack, to be honest.

"I'll probably be saying this the next time we're sitting down here."

Heaslip's experience of the big stage cannot be overvalued. He knows what it takes to compete - to win - in Europe.

Respect

"You're going up against the best from other leagues. You've got to respect that," he said.

"I tell guys who have not had huge experience in Europe, the room for error comes down. It gets shorter and shorter. The game gets faster.

"In terms of even ball-in-play, the longest periods go from two minutes in the Guinness PRO12, up to three-plus minutes in Europe and over four minutes at international level.

"It doesn't sound like a lot - three minutes of constant work. But, I can tell you - you hit a couple of rucks, make a couple of carries, tackle for three minutes - it's pretty tiring.

"That is an aspect we have to prepare these guys for."

Now, Leinster just have to go out and do what they have been doing for most of Heaslip's career. As usual, the number eight is not short of confidence. It comes slowly dropping from the start of the working week: "The Monday and Tuesday is where you front-load it with all the information about how you want to play, different plays and what you are doing. Job detail stuff," says Heaslip.

"That gives you confidence in your job. But, then after that, rugby becomes quite simple. It becomes about physicality and mentality.

"You start ramping it up from Wednesday and Thursday through to Friday. We usually have a day off Wednesday. By the time we meet on Thursday I am taking it for granted that the seven and the six know exactly what they are doing, that I don't have to worry about them.

Bollocking

"If you start going through players and they don't then that's when you have to start giving guys a bollocking because it is expected of the guy.

"Brad Thorn used to say that he liked to think of players as machines.

"It is programmed in - what you have to do - and then it is just about smashing things again and again and again with and without the ball.

"It's pretty simple once you do that."

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