Heaslip plays down rankings battle
November 22, 2012
Gilroy darts in for one of his three scores against Fiji last Saturday © Getty Images
Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip has demanded his side focus on the challenge of Argentina and not the rankings battle that will go a long way to deciding their fate at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The winner of Saturday's clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin will be assured of a place in the top eight of the IRB world rankings when the next edition is published next week and therefore be guaranteed of a place in the second tier of seeds for next month's World Cup pool allocation draw.
The losers of the game could, depending on other results, slip out of the top eight and into the third tier of seeds that would result in them being drawn alongside two of the world's best sides in the early stages of the sport's showpiece event.
Heaslip, who will be leading the Test team for the second time, has stressed the importance of forgetting the possible ramifications and concentrate on just winning the game. "In the greater scheme of things it's an important game, but for us it's like any other match," Heaslip said. "We've all played in big matches like Heineken Cup finals and internationals.
"We just have to treat it like we treat every game and chance that we get. Argentina will be a lot more organised because of the time they have together now. They have a big, physical pack and their backs aren't afraid to play either."
Fly-half Jonathan Sexton has urged Ireland to deliver and ease the pressure on coach Declan Kidney with reports suggesting his contract would not be extended beyond May next year should Ireland fail to hold onto their place in the top eight.
"They work incredibly hard. They're obviously under a bit of pressure, as are the players," Sexton told the Irish Independent. "We're all in it together and we've been on a poor run. But they've done everything right by us and we'll try to do that for them on Saturday and get the win that they deserve and that we probably deserve. But you don't always get what you deserve and we have to go out and play well and do everything we've prepared for."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape