Jamie Heaslip puts everday values before trophies ahead of Pro12 final

Leinster captain says Leinster will win if playing to their abilities against Glasgow Warriors

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip hands off the challenge of Glasgow’s Niko Matawalu in last year’s semi-final victory at the RDS.

Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip hands off the challenge of Glasgow’s Niko Matawalu in last year’s semi-final victory at the RDS.

Jamie Heaslip’s game statistics are astounding. The 80-minute man all season, in every game, this will arguably go down as his greatest campaign yet.

Hence the interest from Toulon and Montpellier. Hence the IRFU stumping up to keep him at Leinster.

On Saturday he plays his fifth Pro12 final in a row. If he wins, the medal will be banished to the parents garage in Naas, where his two Six Nations medals can be found and all the other rugby accolades gathered since Michael Cheika made him Leinster’s first choice way back in 2005.

Having played a few seasons of AIL with Trinity, while studying, he played 26 times for the province in his first season. That being the year after he helped the Ireland under-21s reach the World Cup final in Glasgow.

He really took flight in 2009. Grand Slam and European champion followed by a Lions Test series in South Africa.

The next five campaigns saw him average 17.2 matches, 16 tries and a whole pile of 80-minute outings.

Last season he missed a grand total of 10 minutes from the 19 games he played in blue. He doesn’t do injuries, not since his ankle gave him trouble down in Clermont on December 12th, 2010.

Heaslip hobbled to the next lineout and the next ruck before being hauled off after 42 minutes. He plainly didn’t understand what was happening. Six days later he played all 80 minutes against the French goliaths in Dublin.

“I’ll use the Church Healy quote lads; ‘the bus don’t break down’.”

Clearly it doesn’t. He’s 30 now. Only man to play every minute of all eight Ireland Test matches in November and the magnificent Six Nations.

Saturday will be his 18th club game in 2013-2014. He’s the captain. That title will be prefixed by ‘club’ come the full-time whistle, just as Leo Cullen becomes forwards’ coach.

Most decorated

Along with Rob Kearney, Heaslip is among the most decorated rugby player in Irish history. Two Lions tours, two Six Nations titles, four European medals and two domestic league titles. Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy have three of the latter.

But he doesn’t care.

“To be honest I just park it and want something else, want more and more and more. In time I will look back. I have nothing in my house rugby-wise, it gets shipped down to my folks. I don’t even think they even have it up, they’re in the garage somewhere,” said Heaslip.

They may be different men but Kearney echoed these sentiments when asked if it is disappointing to be unable to celebrate for more than a few hours after they presumably put Glasgow away.

“Couldn’t care one little bit,” said Kearney. “I say this in a humble way, I’ve been in finals over the last five years that you don’t get to enjoy the time after but you take that over the other teams who have two weeks off before the tour.”

Ireland, along with Kearney and Heaslip, depart for Argentina on Sunday.

So what is it all about then? How does a team maintain a winning mentality?

Heaslip was looking forward to nipping home for a siesta. That’s what motivated him last Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ll get what we deserve at the weekend,” he explained. “ If we do our job and play to our standard we’ll get the outcome that we deserve on the day.

“That’s how we measure ourselves. If we do the best we can and don’t get the outcome we can hold our hands up and be quite proud of what we’ve done.”

‘Toulon game’

When did that last happen? “Yeah . . . the Toulon game. They deserved to win. We can probably say we didn’t play the best we could but you learn from those games as well. But you also learn in tight games, when you win, what it takes to get to that level, what level you have to go to.

“We’ve been involved in some helter-skelter games, finals and knockout situations, but Glasgow are all too aware as well from last year what it takes. There was nothing between the teams in the RDS.

“Back to what you said, is it the trophies that we judge ourselves on? Not really. We judge ourselves on our everyday values to be honest.

“We get what we put in for the year.”

Champions don’t chase silverware, they chase themselves. They seek to surpass their own achievements.

“Our goals aren’t about sitting down and saying we want to win this or that. Those days are kind of gone. It’s more about what do we want to be known as? What do you want your team-mates to say about you? What do you want the guys you play against you to say about you and say about your club?” said Heaslip.

The bus don’t break down.

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