Ireland v Italy, Six Nations, February 6
Heaslip wary of Italian backlash
February 3, 2010

Ireland No.8 Jamie Heaslip is preparing for an Italian backlash as they kick-off their Six Nations defence at Croke Park on Saturday.

Italy's plans to have teams entered into the Magners League lay in tatters after a breakdown in negotiations and Heaslip believes that there may be some added spite come kick-off in Dublin.

"Italy are a class outfit and they might feel they have something to prove," he said. "They might have something against the Irish team now that Italy didn't get the nod for the Magners League.

"We'll have to bring our 'A game' anyway because that's the way this championship has gone over the last couple of years. We play against the Italian players in the Heineken Cup - they're big and they bash you about. They hit hard, have some skilful players and seriously good finishers."

Heaslip maintained that pre-tournament hype was not affecting the squad and that they would be going all out to maintain their high standards after an unbeaten year in 2009.

"It's been pretty much the same feeling as last season," he said. "We had a good year and people are talking about expectations, but that's external. We've set the bar high for ourselves and we're concerned about meeting that standard that we've set."


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