herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Heaslip ready to show way for Leinster

Ruddock wary of France flanker Diarra ahead of Castres

Jamie Heaslip
Jamie Heaslip

Forests have been laid to waste on the importance of leadership in business.

Professional sport is all about the business of winning. First and last.

It generates the sort of revenue and interest that took Leinster away from what was then a rickety old Donnybrook which was bursting at it's well-worn seams with a 6,500 capacity and housed the growing franchise in the 18,500 all-seater RDS with plans for greater development in the works.

It even facilitates the migration from there to The Aviva Stadium for the apocalyptic entrance of Munster in the PRO12 every year and what has evolved into a European appointment against the most attractive proposition in the Pool.

This season, Leinster will welcome back their old boy Conor O'Shea and his Harlequins in December in what will be the second leg of the back-to-back rounds three and four.

It takes leadership to make that journey out of obscurity, into the light of better days.

Leadership comes from coaches. Michael Cheika. Joe Schmidt. Matt O'Connor.

It comes from captains. Brian O'Driscoll. Leo Cullen.

It now comes from Jamie Heaslip.

You don't have to know too much about the game to know leadership when you see it.

The Naas man is a big game player. It has been that way since 2009. The Grand Slam. The Heineken Cup. The British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

METTLE

The son of an army officer showed his mettle in battle against Wasps last week.

It is now time for the minefield that is French soil and a return to a place that resembled hell for the first-quarter of Leinster's 29-22 Pool win in Stade Antoine-Pierre last season.

"Yeah, we had Castres last year," he said.

"They are a tough side, abrasive side, a big pack and, like all French teams, a big pack that are always tough to contain".

It was certainly so when Leinster were skittled in the scrum last January.

They had to suck it up at fourteen points down in the first quarter.

"From experience against them, their set-piece is strong," noted Heaslip.

"Going up against their pack, it will tell where we are at".

The Castres front five from last season are all still at the club along with France international hooker Brice Mach, Romania's Mihaita Lazar and All Black Saimone Taumoepeau.

Heaslip's back row colleague Rhys Ruddock was also keen to run with the line that Castres will be a "step up" from Wasps.

"I think they could be in terms of the break-down and their physicality in that area," said the blindside.

Leinster had trouble containing Ibrahim Diarra in January and Ruddock doesn't think much has changed about the threat posed by the France flanker.

"Their back-row is really strong and players like Diarra who we targeted last year, but he still managed to have a great game and really impacted, at the break-down especially.

"I think we'll have to have a step-up there. But they struggled at the weekend in terms of the scrum a little bit and the line-out didn't go as well as it had been, so I think they'll still want to come after us in that area and have a point to prove.

"It'll be a big week for the pack, I think".

It always is.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News