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Rhapsody In Blue
With another Heineken Cup added to his list of rugby honours, Leinster and Ireland wing forward Jamie Heaslip tells Craig Fitzpatrick that he has little time to reflect on success – but plenty to prank team-mate Cian Healy.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 18 Jun 2012
“It probably added a bit of flavour for people off the pitch,” he says. “But in terms of on the pitch? Not really. We approached it like any other game. Very methodically. We were saying during the week that we’d try and be like machines.”
The human element arrives at the final whistle. “At times you catch yourself out,” he nods. “Particularly the lap of honour on Saturday. I remember just standing there. I came a bit away from the lads, and I stood back looking at the whole thing, taking it in. I still remember my first proper season at Leinster, the semi-final Heineken Cup in the old Lansdowne Road. So I thought back to that and just went, ‘Wow!’ We’ve come a long way’. Now I have three medals at home. That’s what counts for me: when I finish rugby I can look back and say ‘see those three medals?!’ Maybe even four. Maybe even five!”
One of Jamie Heaslips’ defining characteristics is that his confidence knows no bounds. In the past, the fair-haired 17-stone specimen has admitted that this quality can be construed as cockiness. Is that a vital commodity at the highest level?
“I love playing rugby but the ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ thing? Pfft. I’m not there to make up numbers. And yes, you also have to be humble. My dad always said to me, ‘Talent is nothing without discipline’ and I think that’s the truest thing you could say. Treat it like a job. But be confident, otherwise you’ll fall flat on your face.”
That translated into quite a claim appearing in the pages of Hot Press last summer, prior to the World Cup. When asked by Anne Sexton what Ireland’s chances were, Jamie seemed to reckon we’d win it. It didn’t quite work out like that, with Wales flattening us in the quarters. Heaslip casts his mind back. “If I remember correctly” he counters, “she asked me could we win the World Cup and I said ‘yes’. But I’d say that anyway, I don’t play to lose!”
When I ask if Leinster’s recent heroics or being a part of Ireland’s Grand Slam side of 2009 has meant more, he shrugs.