Easterby impresses Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip revealed yesterday new Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby has already made a hugely positive impression on Joe Schmidt’s squad as they face in to a crucial 12 months prior to the next World Cup.

Easterby impresses Heaslip

Easterby, who is still involved for now with a Scerlets side that takes on Heaslip’s Leinster at the RDS tomorrow in the Guinness Pro12, was present when the squad met up for a pre-season camp last month.

Heaslip was already well acquainted with Easterby. The pair played three times for Ireland together under Eddie O’Sullivan while the current Leinster skipper replaced the elder man on another occasion, against Italy in the 2008 Six Nations.

“The first encounter with Simon in the summer, he was quite methodical,” said Heaslip.

“He is quite like Leo (Cullen) in a way. Very thought out. You are seeing that professional player side come through in how he does his business off the field in coaching.

“Everything is planned and thought out and there is a practicality to it (which comes) from playing at the top level and knowing what it takes both mentally and physically to get yourself right and where you need to be and what is expected of you.

“He has set his stall out pretty clear so lads have a very good idea of what he wants with whatever pack he goes with. As a player, that’s what you want.”

Easterby steps into big shoes given the role of Kiwi coach John Plumtree, who constantly challenged the Irish pack to attain the status of world-class as a collective and individually, in last year’s Six Nations title success.

Plumtree’s subsequent decision to step down from the role after the summer tour to Argentina was thus viewed as a blow to Schmidt’s plans leading in to the new season and the global gathering in England in 2015, but Heaslip has confidence in Easterby.

“Oh yeah. Everyone is quite different. Plum was really well liked by all the players and by the pack especially. But Simon has his own characteristics. He is a really good bloke as well and he has been in that environment so he knows both sides of it as well.

“He has impressed so far and I really think he will step into his own, into his element, this season.”

Heaslip’s season is expected to start against the Scarlets, with whom Easterby remains in a temporary support role, and head coach Matt O’Connor will be able to choose from a squad containing all his fit Test players.

That includes Rob Kearney who was doubtful earlier in the week with a foot injury but Gordon D’Arcy is unavailable for now meaning there are teasing questions as to the make-up of the centre pairing, particularly post-BOD.

Noel Reid, a man expected to make a play for inclusion in that sector, is out having rolled an ankle in the season opening defeat to Glasgow last week while new signing Ben Te’o has yet to finish his rugby league duties with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

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