Jamie Heaslip training with Ireland this month
By Grainne McGuinness and Shaun Cronin
Jamie Heaslip was full of praise for his former coach Michael Cheika in the build-up to Saturday’s match against Australia and said Ireland have plenty of reasons to be nervous.
Heaslip was asked if Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was using Ireland’s defeat to Australia last year as a training tool.
“You can’t take too much, because it’s a different coaching staff, “ he said. “They have a similar enough squad, because Cheika’s only in there I doubt he’s had the ability to change too much.”
“More so, on the more recent games, we’ve looked at them. In set-pieces we’ve looked at them a good bit.”
Ireland go into this match looking to complete three wins from three after beating both South Africa and Georgia. Now all that lie between them and a perfect November series are Cheika and his Australian team, who will be be licking their wounds after defeat to France last weekend.
Heaslip laughed when asked to describe what Cheika was like as a motivator.
What Cheika says in the changing room and in terms of training, I don’t think stuff can be repeated at times,” he said. “He’s a very passionate man, he would wear his heart on his sleeve, and that’s quite good because you definitely know what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling.”
He warned of the many other positives Cheika would bring to the opposition.
“In terms of organisation, thinking about the game, he’s a very very smart man,” said Heaslip. “He always has that ability to come up with a couple of really good line-breaking moves.
“I know, I've been on the receiving end of them, so I’d give a lot of respect to him there.”
Heaslip clearly still has a lot of affection for the man who managed him as a young player with Leinster.
Michael Cheika - now in charge of Australia
“I’ve quite fond memories (of Cheika), he’s a unique character,” he said. “It was great, when I turned pro, that my head coach was a back row player, so I got some extra attention from Cheika. That was always good.”
But he was equally sure Cheika would be doing everything in his power to give Australia an edge.
“I’m sure he’s going to give them a unique insight into us, into a lot of different players that they probably wouldn’t have had before,” he said. “At the same time, I think he’ll be quite focused on getting Australia right and really getting them into a good place.”
Heaslip said Australia were always a tough opposition to face.
They’re a good side, we know that,” he said. “They’re always there and there about, in terms of the Championship, the World Cup, those big competitions. We owe them a lot of respect.”
“That’s a dangerous combination, of a really good head coach and some cracking players.”