Leinster team manager Guy Easterby has leaped to the defence of Jamie Heaslip’s Ireland captaincy, following Ireland’s disappointing loss to Scotland in Murrayfield.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Easterby defended Heaslip, saying he believed the Leinster man is a good enough to weather the media storm. Heaslip has won just two games out of five as Ireland captain. This is in stark contrast to his record of 11 wins in 12 games as Leinster’s leader.
“From Jamie’s game, outside the captaincy, I think he’s playing well.” Easterby told the Irish Times. “It’s very hard to listen to some people on the television criticising his performances because Jamie plays a certain role and is very selfless in terms of the way that he plays the game and depending on the make-up of the back row that he plays in.
“He is a good enough player to be able to adjust his role accordingly, and I think he’s doing that. His individual performances are right up there so I’d be disappointed with people questioning that.
“The captaincy, he’s done a good job here, he’s got an incredible record,” Easterby continued. “The international captaincy is a different environment and he’s obviously learning that as he goes along but for people to be questioning his choices from the stands or from the television, I find that incredible.”
Declan Kidney’s decision to strip Brian O’ Driscoll of the captaincy is something that a lot of people have vented their frustration over and it appears they have now targeted Heaslip with their anger. Easterby commented that he would be surprised if Heaslip didn’t seek advice from O’ Driscoll and Rory Best, both former national team captains, on how to deal with the pressure of being captain.
“Jamie’s very much his own man and I don’t think he’d take on a role like that and not perform it the way that he sees best. You’ve got to give someone like that an opportunity to grow into the role.
“It would be wrong of him, certainly at the early stage of his captaincy, not to be having a word with those guys and saying ‘what do you think?’ because that’s all part and parcel of learning.
“You don’t learn that by talking to someone before a game, when it’s a pressure environment and you want to get someone like Brian O’Driscoll’s opinion, who has 120 caps; I think that’s a pretty clever thing to do.”
Ireland play France on the 9th March at the Aviva Stadium with both teams, astonishingly, trying to avoid the dreaded ‘wooden spoon’.