Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip is backing Ulster flanker Chris Henry to make life at the breakdown as tough for Samoa this weekend as he always does against Leinster.

Leinster loose forward Heaslip cannot wait to line up alongside Henry in Ireland’s back-row at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, admitting he would far rather be on the same team than facing a player he describes as a “nuisance”.

New Ireland boss Joe Schmidt raged at Henry’s ball-slowing tactics whenever his Leinster province met Ulster and Heaslip now hopes the 28-year-old can get under Samoan skin too.

Heaslip said: “I’ve played against Chris at most levels now coming up, and it’s only at international level we’ve played with each other.

“He’s just a nuisance at the breakdown, at contact, he’s very, very good at getting to the ground, getting back up, showing that clear release and then getting onto the ball.

“He might not necessarily get the poach, but he will make you commit two or three guys to that ruck, as well as the tackler.

“So that’s four of your team versus maybe two of the defensive team.

“That’s massive in terms of your defensive team.

“He’s very good at slowing the ball down, he’s great at the dark arts, and as a back-rower going up against him, you’ve always got to keep an eye on him.

“And to be honest, you have to target him, and keep targeting him: he doesn’t give up, he will go from minute one to minute 90 if it goes that far.”

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