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Jamie Heaslip stays focused only on task of beating Ulster

By David Kelly

It may as well be the middle of the week. That's because, well, it is the middle of the week. The rugby season doesn't stand on ceremony.

In an otherwise vacated HQ, Jamie Heaslip, suitably refuelled with the obligatory coffee is preparing to get busy.

In the middle of a week, in the middle of a season, there is little time for reflection or projection.

"People were asking me what I was doing for New Year's Eve and I was saying I'll be in bed by 10!" he laughs, before confirming, "and I was! It's been a long time since I've been able to celebrate. This was the first time in years I had Christmas off.

"When I look back, I think in seasons, September-May, not in terms of years so we're different.

"In terms of resolutions, I'm not a great man in terms of giving up stuff. I'm a big man in trying to develop habits. My challenge is to read more books. I'm focusing too much on the game this week."

Some might say Leinster need to turn over a new leaf themselves after their dismal submission in Thomond Park but Heaslip is doggedly uninterested in sifting through that particular wreckage.

Asked about that implosion, Heaslip kicks to touch. "I wasn't there," he says blithely. "The boys talked about it. My head is all about this week to be honest.

"My mindset or thought is I'm training for this week, I wasn't around last week, I don't know where mindset was. The chat from the lads was that it was good. We're in a good space this week, we've reviewed the game like any other. We're focused on the side ahead of us in the league and trying to beat them.

"We're in a pretty good space to be honest. We're fifth in the league playing Ulster, three points behind them. We're in a good position in Europe and we have confidence off that. We're in a very good space."

So no sense of frustration?

"No, we're in a good space," he repeats, before repeating again. "We're in a very good space. We're pretty similar to where we were last year and better position compared to previous years.

"The collective strength is pretty good and the mindset comes from that, knowing you've turned the corner and every game gets bigger and bigger from now on.

"It seems as if the season has passed in the blink of an eye but it will go even quicker now. Drawing on that experience makes you focus more sharply. You want to be in these positions at this stage of the year."

The fact remains, however, that they palpably failed to do so in Limerick, however reluctant Heaslip may be to dissect the carcass of that setback.

For him, though, it is the team's response against Ulster and Cardiff in forthcoming league games, before the endgame of European qualification, which will reveal more than introspection on past events. Regardless of performances, widely criticised by those supporters most loyal to them, Heaslip knows that his side are now poised to kick on as the race to the play-offs intensifies.

Belfast Telegraph

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