Jamie Heaslip commits his future to Leinster and Ireland
Ireland number eight signs new IRFU contract until 2019 and should reach 100 cap-mark
“I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to continue to represent Leinster and Ireland.” Photograph: Inpho
Irish number eight Jamie Heaslip has committed himself to Ireland until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. The 33-year-old, who made his debut for Ireland against the Pacific Islands in 2006, has agreed to a contract fully funded by the IRFU.
The agreement, assuming Heaslip does not pick up a serious injury, means the Leinster player is likely to earn over 100 caps and join an exclusive club alongside Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Paul O’Connell, John Hayes and Rory Best.
He currently holds 93 caps, has scored 13 tries and has started in 36 of Ireland’s last 41 Test matches. His most recent appearance for Ireland was in Saturday’s 63-10 victory over Italy in the Six Nations.
Heaslip is also a two time tourist with the British and Irish Lions (2009 and 2013 - five Test appearances) and could be in line for a third tour with Warren Gatland in New Zealand this summer.
Shortlisted for the World Rugby Player of the Year Award in 2009 and 2016, he has also won a Grand Slam (2009) and two Six Nations titles (2014, 2015) with Ireland as well as three Heineken Cups, an Amlin Challenge Cup and two Pro12 league titles with Leinster.
“I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to continue to represent Leinster and Ireland,” said Heaslip. “My aim when I started my professional rugby career was to leave the jersey - either the blue of Leinster or the green of Ireland - in a better place than when I first put it on and this new contract gives me the chance to continue to chase this dream.
“As with each and every professional rugby player, we don’t do this alone and so I would like to thank my wife Sheena for supporting me always and all the coaches, fellow rugby players and supporters who have helped me live my boyhood dream - of going to work daily with a rugby ball in my hand.”
Last year Heaslip collected the IRPA Try of the Year award after topping a public vote online. The Irish team try against Italy in the Six Nations beat efforts by Japan’s Kaito Shigeno and New Zealand scrumhalf TJ Perenara.
No fewer than six Irish players were involved in the 80-yard break before Heaslip held off two Italian defenders to touch down.
“Jamie continues to illustrate why he is one of the top performers in international rugby,” said IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora. “He is a leader for both his country and province and delivers a high level of performance every time he pulls on the green or blue jersey.”
Leinster CEO Mick Dawson said echoed that sentiment and pointed to Heaslips 12 years at Leinster, where he has been both a vice captain and captain of the team.
“As a captain, as a vice-captain, as a player, he sets the standard for others to follow and he is an inspiration to the younger players coming through the Sub-Academy and Academy at Leinster,” said Dawson.
“Since his debut for the club nearly 12 years ago he has been a central figure and we look forward to further success with Jamie in the blue of Leinster and the green of Ireland.”