Leinster number 8 Jamie Heaslip has a real chance to bed himself into the Ireland team this weekend as he tries to help the men in green to their first win over France since 2003.
JAMIE HEASLIP (CLONTARF/LEINSTER)
Born: Tiberias, Israel, December 15, 1983
Height: 6ft 3in; Weight: 17st 2lbs
Leinster Caps: 69
Leinster Points: 85 (17 tries)
Leinster Debut: v Ospreys, March 2005
Ireland Caps: 4
Ireland Points: 0
Ireland Debut: v Pacific Islanders, November 2006
– Saturday’s game against France will mark Heaslip’s fifth cap for Ireland and his first start in the Six Nations. His previous caps have come against the Pacific Islanders (autumn Test), Argentina (summer tour match), Scotland (World Cup warm-up) and last week as a replacement against Italy
– He made his debut in green in the final Test match to be played at Lansdowne Road in November 2006 against the Pacific Islanders. Indeed, he was the 1000th player to be capped by Ireland
– Heaslip, who hails from the Paddocks in Naas, began playing rugby at Naas RFC aged just eight. He then attended Newbridge College, playing at flanker for the school’s Junior Cup team and then at number 8 for the Senior Cup side, before being selected for a Leinster Schools trial
– He is one of four past pupils of Newbridge College in the Ireland squad for the French game. All four – Heaslip, Geordan Murphy, Tony Buckley and Bernard Jackman – got game-time in the 16-11 victory over Italy last Saturday
– Colin McEntee (Leinster Academy) and Michael Cheika (Leinster), both former back rowers, have been the two big coaching influences on Heaslip’s career to date
– Heaslip was capped by Ireland at Schools, Under-19, Under-21 and ‘A’ levels before he made his senior bow. He won 11 caps for the Irish Under-21s and starred at the 2004 IRB U-21 World Championship in Scotland where he helped Ireland reach the final, thus earning himself a nomination for the IRB Under-21 Player of the Year award
– His performances at the 2006 Churchill Cup won him wide acclaim – he played a big part in the Ireland ‘A’ side’s third place finish
– Heaslip was born in Tiberias, Israel when his father Richard Heaslip, a retired colonel, was there on duty with the United Nations. Richard played in the second row in a Shannon team that also contained Brian O’Brien, the former Ireland manager
– His older brothers have both played rugby. Graham Heaslip (36), a former lock, captained Connacht to a famous European Shield win over Bordeaux-Begles on French soil back in 1997
– His try-scoring form in the Magners League has been particularly good in the last two seasons. In 49 appearances since 2005, he has scored 14 league tries for Leinster – including two in his last two games against Ulster and the Ospreys
– Heaslip completed a degree in medical mechanical engineering at Dublin City University in 2005. He turned out for Dublin University in the AIB League, helping them beat UL Bohemians 23-22 in the 2003/04 Division Two play-off final. He is currently attached to Division One side Clontarf
– He is a current member of the IRFU/PricewaterhouseCoopers High Performance Select Group and was voted into the 2006/07 Magners League Dream Team, alongside his Leinster colleagues Gordon D’Arcy, Denis Hickie and Felipe Contepomi
ON LEARNING OF HIS SELECTION FOR THE FRENCH GAME:
“We had a meeting Tuesday morning before training. I was more worried about whether or not I would be in the 22. When he called out my name at number 8, I was delighted. I was over the moon.
“I was straight onto my bro (Richard junior) and my dad because they are starting out on the Trans-Siberian railway this week. Their first trek is into Paris from London. They will hold out there and go to the match.”
ON HIS EXPECTATIONS OF HIMSELF:
“I want to make sure I control what I do (during the match). I’m not the type of player who sits in the video room all the time. I like to concentrate on what I have to do to put together a performance that best benefits the team.”
ON THE FRENCH BACK ROW:
“It’s going to be a lot like playing against the Toulouse back row, based on their style, and I have seen enough of them this year!
“I have seen (Thierry) Dusautoir in way too many rucks. No, I will be looking forward to seeing him again.
“We all saw them last Sunday. They are operating really well, causing a lot of hassle at the breakdown. We have our hands full this week. There is no doubt about that.
“But I am really looking forward to playing off Wally (David Wallace) and Leams (Denis Leamy) – two very good ball carriers who are really good at passing the ball out of the tackle – and the rest of the boys.”
ON COMING ON AS A REPLACEMENT AGAINST ITALY:
“I didn’t think it was a particularly fast game. That was just the way it was at that stage. There was a lot of hard work and a lot of grunt, but it wasn’t fast.
“You know what everyone says: ‘it’s going to be that little bit faster at international level and gaps are going to close that little bit quicker.’
“I think I’ve managed so far, but Saturday is going to be another step up against this French side. But it’s like anything, you just have to step up to the challenge, back yourself and see what you can do.”