WHILE SOME PLAYERS were nervously glued to their TV during yesterday’s Lions announcement, Jamie Heaslip was blissfully unaware of proceedings.
Speaking on Off the Ball, the Leinster and Ireland forward described how he had a prior commitment to conduct an interview with two Blackrock College students, which clashed with the announcement.
It was only at around 11.20am that Heaslip got a call giving him the good news.
“My sister was asking me ‘did you see this?’ And she said, ‘let me tell you, you’ve been selected by the Lions.’”
Though while Heaslip stayed away from the TV, he still admitted to being nervous about the selection.
“I don’t like things that aren’t in my control,” he said. “That’s the uncomfortable element for me.”
He explained how he was “even more pumped for Church [Cian Healy],” given that it was the first time he’d been selected for a Lions tour.
Heaslip also gave the impression that he was relishing the event.
“I have always said that the Lions tour is the best I’ve ever been on. It’s such a unique thing
“It deserves every last bit of coverage.
“You have to try and park [thoughts about it], but it’s always background noise, it’s always there getting louder and louder.”
He said that the selection had been the culmination of a “rollercoaster year” for him
Having been on one tour already, Heaslip gave an insight into what the experience was like.
“You’re with some of the best players in the northern hemisphere. There’s a lot of culture behind it.
“You change roomie every time you move location.
“That first four-week period is a real strong bonding period.
“You need to have that trust in each other. And there’s no better place for that than the rugby field.”
He continued: “On the last 2009 tour, I thought it was a once in a lifetime thing.
“Shane Horgan on the last tour said ‘just do everything’.
The Leinster star also rejected the implication that his form has not been up to scratch at times this year, indicating that he didn’t take criticism from the press to heart.
“I’ve been happy the whole year with how my form has been.
“[I seek out the views of] the coaches I trust and always look for their feedback.”
Moving away from the subject of the Lions, Heaslip went on to back incoming Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, saying:
“Joe came on and kicked it on to another gear [when he took over at Leinster]. The results speak for themselves.
“He empowered a lot of players. I think Joe is more than capable for [the job]. As Ireland coach, he’ll be a great asset.”