Leo Cullen Explains Why Jamie Heaslip Was Replaced As Leinster Captain


Leo Cullen chose to replace Jamie Heaslip as Leinster’s permanent captain with Isa Nacewa ahead of last weekend’s Pro 12 clash with Treviso. Rightly or wrongly, that decision brought back to the fore some pervious doubts about Heaslip’s ability to lead a team to a sufficiently high standard.

Cullen has moved to clear up any suggestions that there was more to his decision than meets the eye.

With Paul O’Connell departed, it seems likely that Joe Schmidt will turn to Heaslip once more to lead Ireland into the Six Nations campaign and it seems Heaslip’s expected international duties played a key role in Cullen’s decision to turn to Nacewa.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Cullen spoke of how, after the retirement of Kevin McLaughlin, the return of Nacewa delivered the squad with the kind of influence that is very hard to come by.

Isa gives us real stability. The fact that he’s here during the course of the season is a real advantage.

The fact that he’s here during the course of the year, the fact that Johnny and Jamie are such key figures in leadership roles with Ireland, it’s important to be fair to those guys as well.

Although Nacewa may be the man with the title, Cullen went on to stress that the influence of Heaslip and Johnny Sexton would be equally invaluable.

They’re both Leinster guys, very very passionate about the team. Jamie has done the role in the past. Obviously, Johnny’s been away, but has been a key figure in the history of Leinster Rugby and in particular some of the success that has occurred here.

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