Seán O’Brien & Jamie Heaslip Name The Best Back-Rows They’ve Ever Come Up Against

Tough opponents.

When it comes to Irish back-rows, they don’t come much better than the combination of Stephen Ferris, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

The Irish trio were a perfect blend and formed a devasting partnership over the years, terrorising opponents with their tackling, ball-carrying and work over the ball.

A very special British & Irish Lions House of Rugby show – fronted by Sean O'Brien and Alex Goode – is available now and will run for the duration of the tour. Follow and subscribe to it HERE

But they came up against their fair share of menacing back-rows over the years and one more than one occasion – met their match.

Two-thirds of that famous trio, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip joined me this week for a brilliant chat on the Up and Under Podcast in a wide-ranging chat following the launch of O’Brien’s new book ‘Fuel’, which is available to buy now.

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Episode 13 has arrived featuring Seán O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip and Garry Ringrose. 🎧 – Jason & Jamie are joined on the show by the one and only Seán O'Brien following the launch of his new book 'Fuel'. 📚 – The lads look at the current state of Irish Rugby and chat about the differences Seán has found in playing Premiership Rugby. 🤔 – Seánie also names his starting Irish seven going forward and tells us about that 'bit of mad' in Irish people that needs to come out of the Ireland lads in big games. 😠 The two lads answer your fan questions including the best back-row they've ever come up against and their biggest career regrets. 👀 – Garry Ringrose also chats to us about his jaw injury, when he'll be back and his British and Irish Lions ambitions. 🦁 Available now wherever you get your podcasts.

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And in terms of the back-rows, they’ve faced, the lads had some brilliant answers, with Heaslip singling out the Wales trio from their Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-final defeat.

“One of the most annoying ones was the Wales 2011 World Cup one [Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau],” Heaslip said.

“They just chopped the sh*t out of myself, Seanie and Fez [Stephen Ferris]!

“That’s where the chop tackle was invented.

“In terms of the hardest person, I think [Thierry] Dusautoir was one of the best. You didn’t think he was that big but it was like running into a brick wall and being hit by a brick wall every single time.

“And he just kept coming. You could rip the head off him, you could take the head off him at the ruck – and he’d be at the next one smiling at you!”

O’Brien meanwhile agreed with Heaslip on the Welsh lads and named the New Zealand back-row from 2012 [Liam Messam, Sam Cane, Richie McCaw] and the old French back-row of Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir and Sébastien Chabal.

“Definitely that 2011 games against Wales, yeah. That was an eye-opener for us,” O’Brien said.

“But I’d probably go with New Zealand in 2012 when we got spanked 60-0.

“It was dreadful.

“I remember saying before the game about [Richie] McCaw ‘just give this lad hell tonight, don’t worry about your game. Just go around and batter this fella if you can.’

“And I remember looking at him after the game and he was destroyed. His head was destroyed, everything was destroyed.

“But he made a carry just on 80 minutes, I think he ran over me, I think he sat me down. And I was like ‘this fella is the most relentless person I’ve ever come across!

“And then the French back-row of Dusautoir, [Julien] Bonnaire and I think it was actually [Sébastien] Chabal at the time. That was a very, very tough back-row to come up against because you had Bonnaire and Dusautoir going around absolutely melting people and then you had Chabal who was running over people!”

You can listen to the full chat with the two lads on this week’s episode of the Up and Under Podcast. It’s absolutely class!