Past pains give Heaslip perspective

Date published: March 9 2016

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip has drawn on the side's experience of almost coming last in the Six Nations in 2013 as they chase a first win in this year's tournament against Italy.

Three years ago Ireland finished fifth after only winning one of their five matches, before going on to win back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 under new boss Joe Schmidt.

A combination of retirements and injuries have left Ireland with two losses and a draw so far ahead of rounding out the tournament against Italy and Scotland.

Heaslip was Ireland's captain in 2013 and remembered how Ireland responded from the advertsity moving forward, with the current squad now expected to do the same.

"As captain, we went over there and lost and nearly came last in the Six Nations," Heaslip told the Six Nations website.

"That was a tough day but I remember sitting in the changing room and talking to the lads about remembering how that felt.

"It was a pretty dark changing room but a lot of the lads who played in that Six Nations that didn't go our way got a lot of experience from it and we kicked on and won it then for two years.

"We're at a situation now where we can draw a line in the sand, build on what we've done well in the first three games and take that into the last two."

Heaslip also explained how the narrow margins in every game so far which had fallen for Ireland in the past two years had now gone against them, along with small errors at key moments.

"We've won the competition by the same margin that we've lost the last two games. The difference really is we've not taken the opportunities that we've created," added Heaslip.

"Also, when they've had the ball, a lapse of concentration or execution against good sides, they score tries.

"We are still creating a lot of opportunities and defending well for long periods. We've got to work on those positives as well and bring them into the last two games."