That the 31-year old is in the frame at all was initially a shock in itself.
When Lievremont named his provisional panel in May, he stayed true to his capacity for left-field thinking, omitting such stellar names as Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud and Sebastien Chabal but Heymans made the cut.
This, despite the fact that the soon-to-be Bayonne back had earned the last of over 50 caps for Les Blues back in November of 2009 against the All Blacks. No surprise then that the player is eager to capitalise on his international rebirth.
“I’m very proud to get the chance to play for my country again,” he said at the team’s Enfield base. “It has been a long time and there were moments when I wondered if I would ever wear red, white and blue again. But everything is behind me now.”
Like so many of their Irish counterparts, a good number of the French players will probably have one eye on the looming cut-off point but Heymans waves away the suggestion that nerves will be a factor for those facing such a crucial audition.
“My philosophy is not to worry about what I cannot control but concentrate on what I can deliver. I am thinking only about Saturday, not Sunday. The coach has probably already picked his squad for the World Cup.”
He should be comforted by his past experiences against the Irish, winning five and losing just one of his previous six encounters against this week’s hosts, even if his last was a nine-point defeat here in Dublin in 2009.
The continued failure to beat New Zealand aside, Ireland’s record against France and their failure to reach the last four of a World Cup remain the greatest black marks against the Irish national side this last decade. Heymans sees some of that changing.
“I cannot believe they have never been to the World Cup semi-finals because I admire the way they play,” said Heymans. “There is a real maturity about the team and for some players this will be their last chance to reach the World Cup semi-finals. They’re a proud team. They’ll look to achieve in New Zealand and I think they will.”