As the squad prepare to to face Ulster this Friday at the RDS Arena in the Guinness PRO12 semi-finals, Jamie Heaslip has spoken about potency of the northern province’s attack and the importance of Leinster backing their defensive systems.

The last time the two sides met Ulster were 30-6 winners at Kingspan Stadium, with a penalty try in the 18th minute setting them on their way. 

The following week, when Leinster defeated Treviso to secure top spot in the Guinness PRO12 table, Ulster put 46 points on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium to make sure of their place in the top four.

That capped a sequence of four wins in a row for Ulster that saw them score 141 points. 

Jamie Heaslip

And it’s that strength in Ulster’s attack that Heaslip was first asked about by the media in UCD ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO12 semi-final.

“We’re going up against a side that are the third highest try scorers in the competition, so they know how to put a few away,” Heaslip said.

“They’ve got a back line that’s playing some really good rugby right now – they’ve got some good finishers. They’re going to be a tough side to contain, but we’ll back our system, back our ‘D’. When it comes to this end of the competition, I’ve been lucky to have a bit of experience in it, it’s usually defence that wins championships.”

Jamie Heaslip

That defeat at the end of April in Kingspan Stadium is something that, Heaslip said, weighed heavily on him and the squad. Losing to your neighbours is never nice.

“When you live it the way we live it, you have to wear your heart on your sleeve, on your jersey. It’s not just you you’re representing, it’s your family, your friends. It’s the 19,000 people who are coming out this weekend, the hundreds of thousands more who aren’t, that are watching it on tv, in the pubs. So you’ve got to wear it.

“That weighs heavy on you when you feel like – not for the lack of effort, I don’t think there’s ever a question of a lack of effort, but just a lack of execution – because you take such pride in it you can feel a little deflated after a game like the last time we played Ulster. The great think about sport is, more often than not, there’s always another opportunity, another crack at it. We’ve got an opportunity to wear that jersey with pride in front of a sold out crowd on Friday.”

Jamie Heaslip

Looking ahead to the game itself, Heaslip believes that accuracy will be king.

“It’s the team that makes the least amount of mistakes. It’s the team that takes the opportunities. We’ll pay them the respect that they deserve. They’ve got the second best defence in the competition, they’ve got the third highest try-scoring ability; that’s two pretty potent stats to have. They earn a lot of respect, they deserve a lot of respect. We’ll pay them that, but at the end of the day we have to focus on ourselves a little bit and focus on what we’ve got to do, focus on our job and our task. We’ll see what the outcome is at the end of that.

“I’ve lost track of the amount of games I’ve played – I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. The trick is always get back up on that horse and go again. If you linger on anything too long it’s not helping you, it’s not good for you and you’re always looking over your shoulder. In rugby games you don’t want to be looking over your shoulder at challenges coming straight on. We’re firmly focused on what’s in front of us.”

Leinster v Ulster this Friday in the RDS Arena (KO 7.45pm) is now SOLD OUT! The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, TG4 and BBC Northern Ireland.

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