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Monday Mar 11, 2024

Former Ireland international Jamie Heaslip takes banter on the chin

Former Ireland international Jamie Heaslip has been on the receiving end of plenty of online banter over the past 48 hours.

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Speaking before Ireland’s one-point loss to what was a spectacular English performance, Heaslip said he felt Ireland “would need to go down to the 13 or 14 men” to lose.

Of course, Marcus Smith’s drop goal would seal a win against an Irish side who, in truth, was ninety seconds away from stealing a result, having been second-best for the majority of the 80 minutes.

Speaking on RTE alongside fellow former Irish internationals Darren Cave and Simon Zebo, Heaslip put his hands for the comments.

Throwing it over to the former number eight, host Jacqui Hurley took onboard Cave’s point that Ireland should have too much for Scotland in the final round, saying, “So it is a simple thing to say that Jamie, but it’s another thing to fix it” referencing Cave’s point that Ireland was disrupted by both England and New Zealand in big games.

Responding with a smile and a chuckle, Heaslip said, “I shouldn’t give any predictions”, to which his fellow panellists all laughed before saying, “I should just stop”.

Offering some sound analysis of where Ireland is, Heaslip continued on to say, “It’s not broken as such, you know.” before continuing on to say, “There were loose kicks that led to tries, there were turnovers at line-outs that led to tries, and they didn’t have the majority of the ball possession.”

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Referencing Ireland’s normally high ball in play minutes, Heaslip said, “The ball in play minutes was around 34. Usually, Ireland pushes it to get it to 40-plus.

“That shows you they weren’t allowed to get into their multi-phase game.

“So it’s back to Darren’s point: if that happens, what is plan B? How do we manage that? How do we weather that storm as such and maybe play a bit more territory?

“Turn the defence, that hard defence around with chips in behind where we test the back three and look for grass in that way and be a bit more patient and not overplay the situation.

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“It fine margins at this level; it was fine margins in the New Zealand game and just as easy that World Cup, it was fine margins in that South Africa game in the group.

“It’s fine, fine margins as to how those games can go. If you go back to the Grand Slam we won in 2018, the France game, they go, what was it, 30/40 odd phases before the drop goal.

“They are the margins at this level, which Darren touched on for those reasons, and it is very hard to win a Grand Slam for those reasons.”

Looking ahead to the final round, Heaslip paid Scotland credit whilst acknowledging that the Championship was in Ireland’s control.

“But what Simon said, it comes back to the game ahead of them is in their control; if they win it, they win (the championship).

“They’ll be focusing on themselves whilst paying Scotland the respect they deserve, but they’ll be very much focusing on themselves and how they tweak things.”

Heading into round five of the Championship, a win of any kind or a draw will secure the Championship for a second year running for the men in green.

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