IRELAND CAPTAIN JAMIE Heaslip says his team-mates have tried to put the error-strewn defeat to England behind them for this Sunday’s clash with Scotland.
Ireland go into the game knowing anything but a win will end their interest in the tournament.
With over 10 players ruled out and confidence needing a boost after a try-less home defeat, the new-look Scots have began to fancy their chances.
However, Heaslip insisted the damp day at the Aviva Stadium will be far from their minds in Edinburgh:
“Obviously it lingers with you. It’s probably a bad thing (that) you can’t go training straight away,” said the number eight.
“You can’t let it linger as you can’t let a win linger. We’re very focused on this week, a big challenge again. Scotland are riding high in confidence, they are playing some good football, a lot of strike runners and not afraid to play with a bit of width. Their counter-attack and turnover is where they are most dangerous as well. They have a very well-rounded game that we got to be ready for.”
He added: “They’ve got the most tries in the competition (six) and they’ve scored a lot of them from turnovers and opportune ones. It just shows that they have got a very good defence and are forcing a lot of turnovers and are quite clinical when they do that.”
The key, says the skipper, is ‘accuracy’ – a buzz-word which has taken hold of Irish rugby as it covers a multitude of areas, but mainly the efficiency of passing, tackling and rucking.
“We’ve got to be very accurate really with the ball, in the quality ball we provide for the backs, how we carry ourselves into contact and winning the gain-line battle constant, negating them winning the gain-line battle when they have the ball. A big challenge but something that we are more than capable of stepping up to and really looking forward to it.”
Even without considering his mantle of captain, Heaslip has become one of the most experienced members of the squad in recent months as bodies drop away. So it is his place to offer advice to those coming into the bear-pit of Murrayfield, a venue Heaslip has experienced the full range of emotions having lost internationals and won Heineken Cups there.
As for his words of wisdom for the young debutants, Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall:
“At Six Nations level, at international level, the space is just closed.” He says, surrounded by microphones in a corner of Carton House.
“The margins (for error) come down for it more from domestically to the Heineken Cup. And then the step up to international level to the step up to Six Nations level: The margins and the space gets smaller and smaller. I’ve 100 per cent faith in Luke and Paddy to be capable of dealing with that kind of pressure on them.
“They are picked because they are ready, because they are good enough. The thing is, you are going to have 14 guys who are rowing in right behind them. (If) they see a chance, take it and just play the game they way they want to play.”