Heaslip fears Italy's fire
Jamie Heaslip fears embittered Italy will be galvanised by their failure to join the Magners League when they face Ireland on Saturday.
The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) are furious after talks over their clubs' admission into the competition broke down because of an inability to meet the Celts' financial demands.
The addition of two Italian teams into the tournament was seen as a crucial step in enabling the Azzurri, traditionally the RBS 6 Nations whipping boys, to become more competitive.
“Italy are a class outfit and they might feel they have something to prove,” Heaslip said. “They might have something against the Irish team now that Italy didn't get the nod for the Magners League. We'll have to bring our ‘A game' anyway because that's the way this championship has gone. We play against the Italian players in the Heineken Cup — they're big and they bash you about.”