Heaslip confident Ireland have a bright future
February 14, 2011
Heaslip touches down for a try against France in Dublin on Sunday © Getty Images
Talismanic No.8 Jamie Heaslip has revealed he turned down a move to France because he is convinced Ireland are on the brink of something special.
Heaslip was recently linked with a host of Top 14 clubs but opted to turn his back on a move to French rugby's top division in favour of a contract extension with the Irish Rugby Football Union until 2014. And while the 27-year-old's comeback from an ankle injury ended in disappointment with a 25-22 defeat to France in their Six Nations clash in Dublin, he remains confident that the team are on an upward curve.
"It's always the same against France, I don't think there's much between us," he said having crossed for one of his side's three tries against Les Bleus. "We have a very good team which is on the cusp of playing its best rugby since I've been involved. There's no lack of belief or confidence in the squad.
"We have an exceptionally good group of players here in Ireland. One of the main reasons for me staying around is that we're on the verge of doing something great and playing some unbelievable rugby. There's no question of us losing faith in our style because we're still scoring tries."
Ireland were left stricken by the realisation they had allowed a superb opportunity to register a rare victory over France slip through their fingertips just a week after conjuring a great escape against Italy in Rome. Ireland head to Edinburgh on Sunday week knowing they are now unlikely to challenge for the title, but convinced they are in reasonable health.
"We scored three tries to one but still lost the game. It was frustrating. The penalties and turnovers hurt us," said Heaslip. "We played some very good rugby and there are lot of positives. We created chances and caused problems with the ball.
"But the negatives are that when you score three tries to one you usually win the game. We have a very good defensive system and I have faith in it. We can take a lot of pressure from teams. We cause problems in the tackle and are very strong in the ruck area.
"On the flip side, in attack we can be very good. We played a very expansive game when we got close to their 22. We got quick ball and when we did that we scored tries. We're fairly comfortable on both sides of the coin."
Heaslip has a healthy respect for France but refuses to place them on a pedestal, backing England to cause them problems on February 26. "France won, they're still on course to win the Grand Slam. We can't win a Grand Slam," he said.
"France have been heavily built up by people, but I don't think they are as good as that. We exposed a lot of holes. England will definitely cause them a lot of problems. In fairness France stayed in the game against us, they took their scores, forced the penalties...I can't deny it's very frustrating.
"They are very clinical, kept the scoreboard ticking over. They make one line break and score one try. It's hard to deny a team that is that clinical and disciplined."
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