Six Nations: We must not lose our shape in Paris: Heaslip
Jamie Heaslip’s try was the high point of a dour Six Nations Championship opener against an Italian side totally devoid of any spark or beauty.
The 15th minute touchdown by the Leinster and Lions No 8 was a reminder of just how explosive and potent Ireland can be, even against opponents as negative as last weekend’s Croke Park guests.
But they will have to show a lot more of that this weekend in Paris where they come face to face with France.
Heaslip is under no illusions; he knows Ireland will have to mix grit and grace in just the right proportions against many pundits’ favourites to win the series by virtue of the fact that they also have home advantage against England.
This will be Heaslip’s third outing against Les Bleus, his record to date being a win and a defeat. He scored a try, too, in last year’s 30-21 Croke Park triumph.
Pinpointing the areas where Ireland must improve this weekend he conceded they had perhaps been “guilty of slowing it down a wee bit too much ourselves which didn’t help”.
“We just lost our shape a bit in the second half when the game got a bit loose,” he explained. “We could have kept the ball a bit more, but it was hard. There was a lot of kicking.”
On a more upbeat note he added: “When we did create quick ball we were very dangerous so we’ll just have to work on that and be a bit more clinical around the rucks with the clean-out and everything. I think that will come, so we should be in good shape.”
With the Irish scrum having come in for criticism during the autumn Heaslip’s retort after Saturday’s performance against the famously hard-scrummaging Italians was: “A lot of people were saying stuff and I don’t know if they could still say that now.”
Measuring the French alongside last weekend’s opponents he ventured: “To be honest I think they’ll be as aggressive as the Italians. They’re going to look to attack — I don’t know if they’ll kick as much — but we’ll have to look at that on the video.”