IT MAY JUST be the luck of the draw but Jamie Heaslip has faced the press after four of Ireland’s toughest outings in the past year.
From the slow start in the World Cup [22-10 over USA], to exit at the hands of Wales [10-22], the heartache of a spurned lead against France [17-17] and the chastening first Test against the All Blacks [10-42], Heaslip has stepped forward.
“You have to go out and bat for your side essentially,” the Leinster forward told TheScore.ie.
“It can be tough and, obviously some times, it’s not the first thing you’d like to do after a game but you’ve got to wear it. You’ve got to front up.
“Whether it is a good or bad game, you’ve got to be honest about it. At least that way you can look back with no regrets.”
Heaslip’s frank post-game assessments, the high standards he holds for himself and teammates, and his ability to compete for club and country from the first whistle to the last, marked him out as an obvious candidate to lead Leinster when club captain Leo Cullen has been absent.
Puma and the IRFU have launched a new black and green Alternate Ireland Jersey which will be worn for the first time against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on 10 November.
The Tuesday withdrawals of Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll and Rory Best, who regularly leads Ulster out, would seem to indicate that Paul O’Connell will captain his country against South Africa on 10 November.
O’Connell has only played two Heineken Cup games, for 63 and 61 minutes, this season and Declan Kidney may anoint a new stand-in captain to go with a new-look team.
“Anyone would,” replies Heaslip when the captaincy question is raised. “Any of the lads that have captained the team would tell you the same.
“I would love to captain the side. It would be an awfully proud moment.” He added:
I wouldn’t say it’s an ambition but it would be a pretty humbling thing. It is so much of an honour to do it with Leinster. It would be multiplied by a thousand when you’re doing it for your country.
“There is no better honour than to lead you teammates out to battle because that’s what it is, a battle.”
Ireland can expect nothing less than a battle when they face the Springboks on 10 November and there would be no greater pleasure for Heaslip to face the press post-match in winning circumstances.
*Heaslip, as a Puma ambassador, will be in Life Style Sports, Dundrum Town Centre, on Saturday, 3 November from 2-3pm to meet and greet fans and sign jerseys.