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Monday 21 August 2017

Rob Howley praise for 'exceptional' Heaslip

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, pictured, praised Ireland's Jamie Heaslip
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, pictured, praised Ireland's Jamie Heaslip

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has hailed fit-again Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip as "an exceptional ball-carrier" ahead of his Test match return in tomorrow's Six Nations showdown in Cardiff.

Heaslip has made a rapid recovery after cracking three vertebrae in his back during Grand Slam-chasing Ireland's 18-11 victory over France in Dublin four weeks ago.

And he will line up in an Ireland side seeking its third successive win against Wales, and record 11th in a row under coach Joe Schmidt at the expense of all opponents.

"He (Heaslip) has experience and quality, and I am not surprised he has made it," Howley said.

"He has shown a lot of resilience coming back like he has.

"He is an exceptional ball-carrier and will offer a running threat in terms of their gain-line against us. We will be wary of the 8/9/10 axis, which is quality and used to playing with each other for Ireland and the (British and Irish) Lions."

Irish half-backs Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray tormented England through a brilliant exhibition of tactical kicking, and their battle with similarly in-form Wales nine and 10 Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar promises to have a major bearing on Saturday's outcome under an open Millennium Stadium roof.

Howley added: "Johnny is an exceptional player. He is very meticulous, and we all know what a quality kicker he is and his ability to get the best out of the back-line.

"It's a great match-up in the half-backs.

"You have got the experience against the lesser experience of Dan and Rhys."

Wales

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