Monday 17 December 2018

Heaslip: team is hurt after loss

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip noted the similarities between the National Football League and his own sport when he tuned into the first round of America's Game.

He was taken in by the game-makers and game-breakers, like Denver Broncos quarter-back Peyton Manning, a legendary figure in the USA.

"I was watching the NFL at the weekend and they were talking about people like Peyton Manning, who are coaches on the field. They read the game. They know the game," he said.


It struck a chord with Heaslip and brought him to his view on Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, Leinster's prodigal son Jonathan Sexton and others already on site out in UCD.

"You look at people like Paul or Johnny or when you come to Leinster people like Jimmy (Gopperth) or Mads (Ian Madigan), these guys who read the game for the backs in terms of how we want to play.

"Or, Dev' (Toner) for the forwards how we want to call our lineouts as well as having the coaches behind you calling the shots. When you get on the field, you need those types of characters."

Leinster will return to The RDS wounded and winded not so much by the loss but by the manner of it against Glasgow Warriors. The motivation, the intent was there from one side, not two.

"It was a tough game it would be fair to say that Leinster didn't play well in that first-half. They got their shape together a bit more in the second-half," he said.

"And that's not to distract from the way that Glasgow played, I thought they were very good. They had something like 60-something possession in the first-half.


"I thought the lads made 200 plus tackles in the game which is considerable for any type of game and it showed the way the game went for them."

In fact, it was the character of Leinster to keep going when the going was toughest that almost caused Glasgow to come undone in the final quarter.

"But, even just to get back into it and be in that position, you realise, at the end of it all, it was kind of like the final blow to the lads, especially when they (Glasgow) have a penalty and they went to the corner.

"We stopped that and then there was another penalty to take the win," added Heaslip.

It is not all doom and gloom. Leinster are no strangers to opening day defeats. It has happened five of the last seven seasons with a draw thrown in too.

"You don't win the league on day one," said Heaslip.

"We have regrouped, looked at the game, parked it and are looking forward as a group. Lads are hurting and will want to get back out there. We just want to get back up on the bike really".

It is a short cycle to The RDS and, rightly or wrongly, the champions are a different proposition at home where they have built a love affair with an audience that appreciates, heck, demands the winning habit.

"Yeah, it will be great to get back out there especially for the first home game of the season. The weather will be good for the weekend and The RDS is a cool place to play on a day like that."

It is also a place where Leinster have to make the ball too hot to hold for The Scarlets, who are not the only Welsh club to recruit well this season.

"I said when we were launching the league I thought Dragons were the best side when it came to recruitment. They got some notably experienced players back into the club," he remarked.

"Scarlets as well got some good signings and are bringing some young players through. They showed that last week.

"The league can be summed up in the way that everyone has to qualify for Europe and in what Europe means financially and the prestige that goes with it and how it wraps up the end of the season and how it has to be competitive.


"You can't just tee up a home game or a derby game you have got to really approach, right from the start, the season as a whole and really go after every game if possible".

The lingering presence of former head coach Simon Easterby at The Scarlets is reminiscent of how Alex Ferguson stayed around Old Trafford subsequent to his retirement as manager of Manchester United.

Of course, Easterby has taken on the role of Ireland forwards coach in the aftermath of John Plumtree's departure with Heaslip well aware of what the former Ireland blindside is all about.

"It is funny. I have come full circle with Simon," he offered. "I've played with him, I've played against him. He's coached against me and now coaching with me, so it is a bit weird.

"And we had him recently with us in an Ireland camp."

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