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Leinster's Heaslip: 'If I was allowed, I'd always bet on myself'

The eastern province’s captain says his side aren’t feeling additional pressure as their European campaign looms.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LEINSTER CAPTAIN JAMIE Heaslip is in confident form as his side prepare to open their Champions Cup campaign against Wasps on Sunday evening at the RDS.

Matt O’Connor’s men are 13-point favourites with one bookmaker at present, and their rich history in Europe means they will have belief in their ability to fulfil such a forecast, even if form has been patchy early this season.

Heaslip says he is unaware and uninterested in what the predictions are for this game, but indicates that he is feeling positive about Leinster’s chances of picking up a home win.

Same as ever.

We’re not allowed gamble, so I don’t even bother looking,’ said Heaslip in UCD this afternoon. “I couldn’t tell you what the bookies have us at. But if I was allowed, I’d always bet on myself.”

The Leinster captain laughed off a suggestion that his side were under pressure coming into this game, invoking Cian Healy’s “pressure is for diamonds” and “pressure is for tyres” quotes.

Not that Heaslip is taking a win over Wasps for granted. The English side sit fifth in the Premiership at present, having recorded victories over Bath, Newcastle and Northampton so far this season.

“Yeah, [they are] a good side,” agrees Heaslip. “There’s a reason they’re in Europe – they’ve got a good team, and they have some big ball carriers in the forwards that get them into the game.

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Jamie Heaslip talks to his players Heaslip is the Leinster squad captain this season. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us to shut down that part of the game, as well as their ability to strike with the speed that they have in the backline. We’re going to have to adapt our game plan for the team we’re going up against, and then divert our focus on ourselves and what we’ve got to do when we have the ball.”

The hope for Leinster is that the scent of European competition, in which they have had so many memorable days, will spark their best form after a stuttering month or so in the Pro12.

Injuries to key men like Sean O’Brien, Healy and Marty Moore have not been helpful, but Heaslip points out that “we’re not playing table tennis here.” Whatever about the players missing, the No. 8 points out that there is excitement among the Leinster squad to get started.

It’s a pretty special thing, you know?” said Heaslip. “Maybe some people don’t realise how hard it is to be consistently in there and how hard it is to finish at the top end of the league to qualify.

“We were talking at the launch, saying that there’s no group of death; it’s more like groups of death, to be honest. That’s where you want to be as a team and an individual, going up against good teams.”

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