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Six Nations 2016 Ireland v Wales: World Cup heartache is in past, says Jamie Heaslip

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 06/02/2016

Pass master: Jamie Heaslip in training yesterday
Pass master: Jamie Heaslip in training yesterday

Ireland number 8 Jamie Heaslip has said the squad have put their World Cup disappointment behind them and are full of confidence ahead of their Six Nations opener against Wales tomorrow (3pm, Aviva Stadium).

Joe Schmidt's men exited the World Cup after falling at the familiar hurdle of the quarter-finals and the failure of the provinces to progress in Champions Cup did nothing to lighten the mood.

Heaslip, however, says the players are in "a very good mind space".

"After Joe speaks we are left to our own devices," said the Leinsterman who wins his 81st cap against the Welsh.

"We talked among ourselves. I won't tell you exactly what we was said between the players but we are in a very good mind space.

"We know exactly what we have to do ... it's Test match rugby, it is a test, it's the team that makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win. If we execute we are giving ourselves a good shot at it."

Heaslip will be joined in the back-row by Munstermen CJ Stander, who makes his debut, and Tommy O'Donnell who is out to put his personal World Cup heartache behind him.

The 28-year-old was pressing hard for a place in the travelling party but a hip injury sustained in the first warm-up game against Wales put paid to his hopes.

Recalling the bitter memory will only make tomorrow's seem all the more precious.

"When I was lying on the turf in the Millennium Stadium I didn't think this was possible," he said.

"When I walk into the dressing room see my jersey there on Sunday, it will make it all the sweeter. It will really drive me on I hope.

"It's just a huge amount of luck that I'm back in this time. A posterior dislocation like I had, it could have been far worse. It could have been never playing rugby again.

"But it was good news from the minute we went in and got the CT scan and the X-rays. Nothing was broken, there was no damage to the acetabulum, the hip joint, and that was big news.

"The joint sat back in nicely, the blood supply was good, all the bruising went away in six weeks. It was good news on top of good news. And after that it was just back to strengthening.

"It just rolled on so quickly it seems like a short process now even though it was four and a half months.

"But if I'd broken the socket, the acetabulum, or damaged the cartilage, that would have made it much, much trickier."

Back from the injury quicker than expected, he has been fast-tracked into a Test return this weekend thanks to Sean O'Brien's hamstring injury.

"When they first gave me a date for returning to play they were talking about April," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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