Finishing up gym sessions at 7.45am part and parcel of Heaslip’s ‘lucky’ 100-cap haul

JAMIE HEASLIP LOOKED slightly surprised when he was asked about the prospect of winning his 100th Test cap this weekend.

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Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The number eight has 94 international caps for Ireland since making his debut in 2006, but across two tours with the Lions he has five more to his name and so he will reach three figures in Cardiff this Friday night.

Asked if, when making his debut in the last international to be played in the old Lansdowne Road against Pacific Islands, he had ever envisaged getting to this mark, the Kildare man furrowed a brow and replied “no” before ending a long thoughtful pause:

“It was around then or shortly after when Leams (Denis Leamy) was getting 50 I think. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Jaysus that’s pretty awesome!’

Heaslip steps in as Shane Horgan and Alesana Tuilagi square up. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I remember hearing – I was really young – I remember Brian (O’Driscoll) say: ‘if you’re hitting 50 you’re an established international’.

Luck undoubtedly plays a role when a back row manages to steer as clear of injuries as Heaslip has done throughout his career. However, the 33-year-old’s Leinster and Ireland team-mate Tadhg Furlong didn’t need to think any further back than a few hours for clues to the number eight’s durability and longevity.

“The amount of games he plays is a testament to the man,” says Furlong.

“The work he does off the pitch is absolutely crazy, I walked into the gym at quarter to eight this morning and he was already finishing up a session after doing his mobility and doing his switch-on work for the pitch.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“The work-rate he has off the pitch in getting his body right and doing his little skill sessions, just shows the type of man he is and what kind of leader he is for the team.”

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