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Tuesday 17 October 2017

reds loss gives jamie the blues

Munster defeat weighs heavy on Leinster captain who denies they are in 'transition'

No one wears a loss quite like Jamie Heaslip.

Maybe, it has something to do with the responsibility of wearing the captain's armband at Leinster.

"It wasn't easy. Look, I don't like losing. Full stop," he said.

"Losing at home, we pride ourselves on being a strong team at home and away, especially at home and then, to top it off, losing to Munster is something I hate for several different reasons.

"I felt emotionally drained sitting in the dressing-room, I don't know how long it even took me to take off my jersey.

"There's a lot that goes into the jersey in terms of what we put into it, the standard we want to be held to. We weren't up to that standard which is a reflection on us."

You may have noticed a hooded stranger waddling around the streets of Dublin late into Saturday night-Sunday morning with his not-so-fierce British Bulldog Jay Z in tow.

"I mean, I have found myself walking the streets of Dublin at 5am before with my dog after a loss, so that's no big surprise," he revealed.

"I suppose you probably start thinking a bit more outside yourself (as captain) and the squad, maybe, as a whole.

"I mean, the load isn't too much to bear," he said.

"You're not bearing it on your own shoulders. There are 36 or 38 players there as well as the Academy guys who will carry the load with you.

"You can't let it stay at you too much because you've got to have that kind of methodical process of assessing it, viewing it, learning from it and then looking forward to the next team ahead.

"You've always got to have it blinkered."

There is nothing quite like a Munster mauling to send this Leinster captain headlong into a bout of detailed assessment. So much so that he just couldn't sleep on it.

Leinster's place in the PRO12 League needs serious attention. From there, the European Champions Rugby Cup will explode into life on Sunday week. Leinster versus Wasps. The Irish versus the English.

Has the increased money being pumped into the French and English Leagues lengthened the odds on Leinster's chance of adding a fourth star to their jersey?

"No, we've always been the underdogs in a way, I think. We've always had a smaller population so we've less of a pool to pick from," noted Heaslip.

"I'm not sure of the playing numbers in France, but it's absolutely huge, England is the same. We've always had that kind of position that we're in."

Heaslip brushes aside discussions about whether Leinster are not what they were in Europe. He doesn't understand the meaning of the word 'transition'.

"People have been talking to me about missing this player or that player but certain guys are just finished, they're gone," he said.

"And we've played big games without big players through injury and that, so you've got to just play with the cards that you're dealt and right now we've a few injuries."

The good news is that Zane Kirchner and Richardt Strauss could be back for Leinster this week.

"Man, I wish I could give my blood to them all and they could all heal themselves straight away, but medical science just hasn't caught up with me yet," he said.

If only everyone was made of the same genetic stuff.

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