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Six Nations: Jamie Heaslip defies odds to reclaim his place

By Nick Purewal

Jamie Heaslip shelved any fear that three cracked vertebrae would end his RBS 6 Nations campaign to complete his remarkable recovery to face Wales.

The British and Irish Lions number eight wound up with three fractures after Pascal Pape's crude knee to his back in Ireland's 18-11 victory over France.

The 31-year-old trudged out of the latter stages of that February triumph in Dublin, amid claims his Six Nations would be halted prematurely.

Ireland's most-capped number eight has long been famed for his ability to avoid injury, but now the Leinster stalwart can add quickfire recoveries to his catalogue of Test powers.

Joe Schmidt's side can take a giant leap towards their second Grand Slam in seven years with victory in Cardiff on Saturday, and Heaslip is in confident mood after beating his back problem to reclaim his starting berth.

"I don't personally listen to outside sources, I listen to our trusted medical team and they gave me some very good guidance," said Heaslip of hints his back injury could have ended his Six Nations.

"I live in a little bubble of day-to-day week to week so it makes life easy for me not to look too far down the line.

"It was an injury where I had to go day by day and every day was getting really, really good and progressed really well.

"We mapped out a really good, clear plan, in terms of ticking the boxes in recovery and I have ticked them along the way and now I'm good to go.

"It's great to be back, it's not the easiest of things to stand on the sidelines being held on a leash a little bit, that was probably for my own good, but it's great to get the opportunity to wear the jersey again.

"I'm a stubborn git and Joe knows that better than anyone.

"I want to live life at 100 miles an hour and sometimes that's not the smartest thing to do, and all the medical staff and backroom staff were great in helping me get back on my own two feet."

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