Heaslip - Belief is everything
Ahead of Ireland's Six Nations match against Scotland, Jamie Heaslip has warned team-mates who lack self-belief "to get off the pitch".
Last Updated: 25/02/11 6:00pm
Ahead of Ireland's RBS Six Nations meeting with Scotland this weekend, Jamie Heaslip has warned team-mates who lack self-belief "to get off the pitch".
Declan Kidney's side have had a flat season to date, winning only three out of six games with the victories against Samoa and Italy hardly resounding.
The same was arguably even the case in their record triumph against Argentina, with mixed messages coming from the Ireland camp as to why they should be experiencing such a malaise.
Defeat at Murrayfield on Sunday would therefore continue a worrying trend for a side that is clearly struggling in World Cup year.
Backs coach Alan Gaffney reckons the high error count is down to anxiety but Heaslip insists that anyone lacking confidence should not be playing for Ireland in the first place.
"I don't feel any anxiousness, you'd have to ask each player individually about how they feel," he said.
"I'm pretty relaxed but at the same time a confident person. I back myself and my ability. I back any of the guys out on the pitch as well.
"I don't think there's a lack of confidence or belief. If there is, and if I know there is, I'd tell them to get off the pitch.
"You don't pull on a green jersey unless you're 100% confident that you're ready to go."
Ireland's attempts to produce a more expansive style have produced some sublime moments of play but as things stand, the high error count is getting in the way of a positive result.
A series of try-scoring chances went begging in Rome and despite out-scoring France three tries to one, Ireland still lost 25-22.
Heaslip thinks that, while teething problems do exist, Ireland are on the right track.
"We've evolved into playing this new type of game," said the Lions number eight.
"It was an exciting game when stuff clicked, we were on fire and created a lot of quick ball. We split a lot of teams wide open and caused them problems.
"But our own mistakes punished us, stuff like turn overs and easy penalties.
"That has happened less frequently in the Six Nations but it has still happened one or twice. The standard of sides we're playing punish your mistakes.
"You might get away with it once or twice in club rugby, but international rugby is pretty ruthless.
"We are on the brink of doing something really, really good.
"We're showing that we can score tries against very good teams. We just need to cut out the mistakes we can control."
An ankle injury sustained in December has limited Heaslip's own involvement in the Six Nations to just the France game.
It was the 27-year-old's first injury in 10 years and while he felt uneasy on the sidelines, he admits the break came at a good time.
"I just wasn't used to it because it had been 10 years since I last got injured," he said.
"I didn't know what to do with myself - I felt guilty for having weekends off.
"It was good in a way because contract negotiations with the Irish Rugby Football Union were going on at the time and it gave me time to think about my options.
"Normally I take a stand-off approach, but I had the time to get properly involved.
"I always said injuries are only for the weak. Everyone said don't say that.
"If it happens, it happens, you just get over it. It's a contact sport and it's going to happen.
"Sometimes you see football players jump in the air and start rolling around.
"You think 'jeez lads, get up will you!' In rugby we run into each other!"