Leinster star Heaslip relishing facing up to old friend Ferris

Jamie Heaslip might have come up against Ulster sides in every season of his professional career but he’s only met Stephen Ferris on the field of play twice.

But, with the two set to clash on Friday night in the RaboDirect Pro12, Heaslip cannot wait to go up against his Irish colleague.

“We were laughing during the Six Nations that, whether it’s due to injuries or rotation, we haven’t actually played against each other in years,” he said. “I’d love the chance to go up against him this week and the two of us have a rattle off each other, and have a laugh afterwards.

“I’m sure him and Seanie [O’Brien] — who room with each other in Ireland camp — would be looking forward to it, to see who would have slagging rights over each other.

“They’ve a great side and no matter what team they put out, it’s going to be a tough ask for us to go up there.

“They’ve got a lot to play for. I think they’re in the mix for the final play-off spot for the semi-finals.”

While the Leinster number eight will enjoy his time on the pitch with Ferris, he wants a win. Despite Ulster falling to Connacht at the weekend, he is expecting them to come out with all guns blazing at Ravenhill.

If Leinster’s forwards can dominate the breakdown, they will claim another win. It’s been a strength all season and Heaslip gave forwards coach Jonno Gibbes all the credit for it.

“The set-piece stuff is really a credit to Jonno. They drill us so well. We’re very clear on what we want to do regarding the detail and our selection of lineouts and what we want to use.

“It’s very clear and it’s great that we can execute it on the pitch. But there’s always a lot of work done every week.

“Jonno has something for us. You think you do a good job, pat yourself on the back, come in and Jonno has a nice video to bring you back down to earth.

“Probably the way Jonno played comes through in the way he coaches.

“He’s very decisive on what we want to do, very clear on what we want to do and it’s all about the detail. He expects a high standard. We try and deliver to him every week. I can’t say enough about Jonno. He’s a great coach.”

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