jamie Heaslip and Fergus McFadden Ireland

Try-scorers Jamie Heaslip and Fergus McFadden

NO 8 Jamie Heaslip played a try-scoring role in his first game of the Six Nations on Sunday in the 22-25 defeat to France. Despite a disappointing and frustrating loss, Heaslip insisted that confidence was still high within the Ireland squad despite a run of poor results, and that they’re not far off from being back at their best.

“We’re on the cusp of playing the very best rugby,” said Heaslip. “We’ve a very good defensive system, and we can take a lot of pressure from teams. Around the ruck area we can cause a lot of problems, around the tackle we’re very strong and on the flip side in attack we can play a very expansive game.

“There is no lack of belief or confidence. We have an exceptionally good group of players. One of the main reasons I stayed around is that I think we are on the verge of doing something great and playing some unbelievable rugby.”

The fact that Ireland scored three tries to France’s one is certainly a positive they will take to Murrayfield with them in two weeks time when they face struggling Scotland, and Heaslip said: “We were clinical, the first two times we were in their 22 I think we scored I can’t really say too much because I have to look back on the game. We created chances and when we held onto the ball we posed a lot of problems.”

Ireland’s first scorer was winger Fergus McFadden, who had been targeting the try-line all week after missing an opportunity to cross the line on his international debut against Italy last week. His touchdown got Ireland on the scoreboard in under five minutes, and he said: “It was unbelievable for me, obviously the first try for Ireland and it was a great start to the day. On the whole, we performed a lot better than last week. We finished off the chances that we were squandering over in Rome and we’re going to try and take the positives out of this going over to Scotland in a couple of weeks time.”