Maybe Jamie Heaslip really is invincible after all. Having missed just one RBS 6 Nations game in seven seasons, the absence of Ireland’s mainstay at No.8 from two of the first three games of this 2015 campaign suggested the formerly unbreakable forward was suddenly human after all.
A shoulder problem had prevented him from playing the opening match in Italy and then his return to action against the French a week later was curtailed by the knee of Pascal Papé fracturing sections of three vertebrae.
Such an injury should have signalled the end of Heaslip’s involvement in this Six Nations but reports of his demise, aided by the footage of him clearly in serious discomfort, were apparently exaggerated for the Leinster captain will be back in a green jersey in Cardiff tomorrow as Ireland continue their Grand Slam bid against Wales in the Millennium Stadium.
Heaslip’s back is in business, it seems, the only bruising that remains being to his ego having failed to get himself dressed in the immediate aftermath.
“I could walk. I wasn’t actually that bad,” Heaslip said yesterday.
“A lot of it was, be it good or bad, blown out of proportion. We’ve (Ireland team medic) Eanna Falvey here, who’s an amazing doctor. We’ve all the backroom staff, (Leinster team doctor) John Ryan, who was in St Vincent’s as well.
“I literally hopped in the car with John, was brought straight to St Vincent’s, got a CT scan straight away, went in the next morning for a follow-up CT scan. Eanna was on top of things as well all the physios. I had all the bases covered.”
The seriousness of his plight had not been immediately apparent to Heaslip, who added: “The reason I came off in the game was because the incident happened and I was ‘okay that’s done.’ In my head, it was just like getting a dead leg, ‘just run and you will be fine. Just run. It’ll be grand.’
“We kicked to a maul. I lifted in the lineout. I couldn’t get myself down into a good position. I was caught up high at the maul. It went a couple of phases. There was a five-man lineout. I was actually out. The ball came over the back.
“Normally, I would dive on those scraps straight away. I, literally, couldn’t bend over. Thank God, Rory (Best) was there. He scooped in and cleaned it up. I turned around straight away and said: ‘right lads, I’m a liability here.’ I had to come off. Once I stopped running, it tightened right up.
“Probably one of my most embarrassing moments as a professional player was that I had to have the doctor put my boxers on.”
Heaslip proved to be a remarkably quick healer: “I was uncomfortable. It was like there was an iron bar going up my back was the feeling. If I moved you would get a sharp pain.
“I was fine that night. I sleep on my back anyway. I didn’t sleep until about 3-4 in the morning. That’s pretty normal after a game. The docs had prescribed me painkillers and anti-inflammatories. I felt stiff and sore, But, I didn’t take any of it. I was fine.
“As the week went on, it eased right up. At the end of the week, I was trotting around. I progressed pretty quickly which they were all surprised about. I was good to go.”
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