Waratahs v British & Irish Lions, Sydney
Jamie Heaslip describes 'mongrel' Cheika
June 14, 2013
Jamie Heaslip has been a standout for the Lions © PA Photos
Heaslip knows the Waratahs coach all too well from his days playing - and winning - under Cheika for Irish provincial side Leinster, and he credits the Australian for transforming the club into a European Cup-winning team. "The club had lost its way a little bit and was a little bit shaky," Heaslip said ahead of Saturday's match in Sydney. They were training all over the place. It was all over the place and Cheiks came in and he just put a really, really good structure and made it like - I always refer it to - an organisation, like in the NFL."
But if Cheika added a professional edge to Leinster off the field, Heaslip said he also insisted that every player showed mongrel on it. "He always also kept you under the pump. He demanded the best from players. Sometimes the ways he went about that was good for some players, but harder for others to take. He was a hard nut, some would say a madman at times. He was a fiery character but I had a lot of time for Cheiks. I was really blessed because he was a backrow player, and I was just lucky because he would kind of see the game as I would see it."
Tom Hamilton, Andy Withers and Jonathan Harris-Bass preview the Waratahs-Lions fixture%]
Heaslip has no doubts Cheika will have spent the week firing out expletives at his undermanned Waratahs in a bid to steel them for the challenges of taking on the Lions.
"Knowing Cheiks, he's definitely sticking it to the guys who are there and motivating them, that this is their chance because those guys aren't around," he said. "I wouldn't put it past him if the pads they're hitting all week were red, or they put red jerseys on the opposition. He would have made sure every box was ticked. He's a great coach and these guys are going to be well drilled and they're going to be a hard team with Cheika calling the shots. He's really, really passionate about his rugby and he wants people to go 100% flat out, like he does. He doesn't like people holding back. He doesn't like people hiding."