Leinster Rugby’s Jamie Heaslip talks about this weekends Rabo Pro12 final against Glasgow. Kick off 6:15pm Sunday.
After the Heineken Cup double, last year Leinster settled for an Amlin trophy, but after being knocked out by the eventual winners, now look to the Pro12 to retain the trophy-winning streak they have cultivated over the last five years.
“They’re the positions you want to be in at this time of the year, to be playing in those games (European finals). I was awful jealous at the weekend not being involved in any sort of competition. It was the first time in a couple of years that happened.
“We want to kick on come this week and we know the challenge ahead of us. We played these guys last year in the semis, we played them I don’t know how many times over the last couple of seasons in Europe and the league. We know that margins that are there; last year could have gone either way. I think Rob made a great tackle on the line and held a guy up over the line, one score separated the team.
has cast aside talk of a ‘season failure’ should Leinster fail to hold the Rabo Pro12 title aloft this Saturday at the RDS. It would see Leinster without a trophy for the first time in five years and while stating the reigning Champions will get what they deserve, the former Irish captain insists the work done in Matt O’Connor’s first year at the helm is of greater significance .
“It’s about what we did in pre-season, it’s about what we did on the terrible, cold, wet days in winter or yesterday in training, you know what I mean? If we come together and play to our standard, we’ll get the outcome that we deserve. I know we’ve had success over the last couple of years.
“If you compare it to last year, we’re in a better position. Last year we didn’t get out of our group in Europe, this year we got out but unfortunately got beaten by the team who went on to win it. We’re in the same position in terms of the league.”
We’re not turning up to make numbers. We’re playing to win. It’s not going to be easy to do that. I can’t tell you if we’re going to win or not. What I can tell you is that the guys who take the field are going to know their job 100% and execute to the best of their ability and then back it up for 80 minutes. You might get 80 different opportunities to get your involvements in the game. We’ll focus more on them and then we’ll see if we get our outcome. Yeah, it’s great to have the silverware and that, but in a weird way you win and then just park it. I want more and more and more and more… Maybe in time when I can look back. I have nothing in my house rugby-wise, it’s all shipped down to my folks. I don’t think they even have it up, I think they have in the garage or somewhere. There’ll be time for all that. Right now, it’s just about trying to be the best you can be every day and adhering to the values that this club is all about.
Impressions of Glasgow?
Good side. They’re playing like a real team, both in attack and defence. They really seem to know what they’re about. Over the last couple of years they’ve been a really good side, a really combative side. They more I see them, the more they’ve gelled over the last couple of years. They’re very comfortable in defence to go through 14, 15, 16 phases if needs be and defend. When they get one opportunity to get in there on the ball, they’re always combative around that tackle/ruck situation. I suppose that makes it easier for them in terms of defence. If they’re able to really go at the ball and slow it down to three-, four-, five-second rucks, it’s quite easy to defend then because you’re line is all set. You’ve got your 10, 20, 30 around the ruck, and then they take that line speed very well, the initial couple of metres, and then are quite comfortable to hover and make you make a decision and react to it. Defensively, they pose a lot of threats, because they’re quite hard to break down.
Attacking-wise, they know what they want and they know what they’re about. They’ve got threats out wide to finish, very strong midfield carriers to give them targets off set-piece, and then they’ve got very good operators around the line-out, scrum, and good ball carriers in the forwards. They just have that really good mix of being able to roll up their sleeves; they’re willing to do that and run into walls. But they also have the speed and panache out wide. A real whole team effort and threat on both sides of the wall.
Do you enjoy these weeks?
It’s funny like, because there’s a always a bit more niggle in some lads. Everyone wants to play as well. Everyone wants to be playing in a final, or a knock-out game, the big games. So there’s always that little more niggle from the week. There’s certainly been that this week and I think it’s good ahead of that atmosphere that we’re going to get at the weekend.
I enjoy it, it’s nice to be training in a bit of sun. It’s nice to be playing in the RDS at this time of year and have return on what we talked about. It’s an 11-month season and I’ve had a couple of them back-to-back over the last couple of years. Seasons go through peaks and troughs and it’s a bit of a roller-coaster in terms of trying to get yourself up for games, trying to stay up for tough league games away.
To be playing a final in the RDS after that whole year of effort is a great opportunity for myself, for those lads who are playing for Leinster for the last time. This is the last time this team goes out and these guys are playing with each other, there’s a couple of those moments. I’m not too sure how many players we’ve used this year, but you’re representing all the development and academy players as well. You go out to families, friends, the different supporters who come here regularly. It’s pretty special really.
Playing at RDS?
I love the RDS. At times I prefer it even to the Aviva, at times, because it gets that little bit more tribal with your club. The way the RDS is when you come out beside that mad terrace where all the hardcore Leinster fans are out of the changing room, it’s a pretty unique experience. It gives you a great buzz to have those people there, but at the same time, I don’t think Glasgow are going to be intimidated. They played here in the semi-final last season and could easily have won that game. I heard they have the biggest amount of supporters they’ve ever had travelling over. I don’t think they’re going to be fazed by that.
They’ve got a lot of momentum behind them and I think this is the first final they’ve played in. They’re going to be loving that opportunity. But, to be honest, so are we. This could be my 20th final or my first final, it makes no difference. I’m turning up to win and whoever gets the chance, has the same type of mindset. That’s what we’re tying to do every day during the week training. When it comes to the job on Saturday, we go through our routines, go through the processes and we’ll hopefully get that outcome.
No, no. Before I leave, I’ll use the Church Healy quote; The bus don’t break down lads, it just keeps going.