Brian O’Driscoll Says Ireland’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Chances Have Taken A Dent

Man down.

Brian O’Driscoll says Ireland not having Jamie Heaslip in their 2019 Rugby World Cup squad will leave a dent in the squad.

Heaslip announced his retirement from the game on Monday with immediate effect, after failing to recover from a troubling back-injury. O’Driscoll says people didn’t understand Heaslip’s true value.

He says the number eight was a “big-game player” and that he had a “real winning mentality.”

“I know lots of people really, really rated him but I don’t think people truly understood his value,” said O’Driscoll, who was speaking in Monaco his role as a Laureus ambassador.

“He’s a big-game player. He always turned up for big games, always. I never saw him play a sub-standard performance in a game where it really counted.

“He was a very savvy rugby player. He cleaned up an awful lot of messy stuff – good link player, great athlete and an unbelievably good professional. He is a big loss.

“Ireland are in good shape in that position but what you don’t see is that rugby intellect in every player. I think he was one of the rare ones that he could put it all together. He had a real winning mentality.

“He is absolutely a loss for Ireland – to not have him in their 30-man squad for the World Cup, for me, will leave a little bit of a dent.

“A great opportunity for other guys but I’ve a lot of time for Jamie as a team-mate and as a player he was someone that you wanted in your team.

“I felt we were stronger for having had him in our team.”