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Monday 5 December 2016

'Tiddlywinks, chess or scrabble - you want to beat England at any sport' says Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip
Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip doesn't have to feel hatred to play hard when it comes to the 'auld enemy.'

"It's England. It's Twickenham," he said.

"If you can't get motivated for a game like that, get out of the changing-room, to be honest.

"If you are an Irishman and you're playing tiddlywinks against an Englishman, or chess or scrabble, you want to beat him.

"You know what I mean. It is very easy to be motivated."

It is simply the nature of the beast to come out fighting when threats exist.

"I don't know if we're ever fearful of an opposition or particular grounds," said the Ireland number eight.

"They are a very good side; good ball players, good athletes, really good guys who control their game and direct them around the field, a good defensive system.

"We're going to have our work cut out for us," he said.

Ireland enjoyed a golden period at Twickenham in winning in 2004, 2006 and 2010 to make it three wins out of four there.

Since then, it has not been such a good harvest, Ireland being soundly beaten in 2012 (30-9) and just shaded 13-10 there in 2014.

When Ireland have not been on point, they have tended to fall to heavy defeats as they did in 2002 (45-11) and 2008 (33-10), the year before the Grand Slam.

"They've a very good home record. We haven't won there since, what, 2010, I think someone said to me."

It is not so much about what Ireland want to do that will dictate how they attack as much as what the England's defence shows Jonathan Sexton.

"You play what's in front you and you take the space wherever it is," said Heaslip.

"If that's out in the wide channels, you play in the wide channels.

"If it's where you try and spread the field and get holes around the ruck or the middle of the field where there might be spacing.

"If they're playing 14 up in the line, then you've got to kick where the space is, kick to the grass.

"You play whatever's in front of you and that changes throughout the entire game."

The wall of violent collision sure to advance out of England's new defence coach Paul Gustard will have to be beaten in more than one way.

"You've got to be organised. You can't be reactive, I suppose is the best way to describe it. You've got to be proactive.

"If there's an opportunity to tip on and there's a guy in more space than you do.

"Sometimes you've just got to carry into a wall.

"They're big men and in terms of collision loads and things like that, it's going to be up there," he said.

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