Rob Howley praise for 'exceptional' 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."