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Heaslip and O’Brien name the toughest back-row they faced

‘They just chopped the s**t out of us’

Former Ireland internationals Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip named the 2011 Wales back-row as one of the toughest they ever faced in international rugby.

Ireland of course suffered another heartbreaking defeat in a Rugby World Cup quarter-final in 2011, as Wales sent them home from New Zealand after a 22-10 loss in Wellington.

Heaslip – ‘They chopped the shit out of us’

The Welsh back-row of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau were largely responsible for that gut-wrenching loss, with Heaslip singling them out as one of the best he has faced.

“One of the most annoying ones was the Wales 2011 World Cup one. They just chopped the sh*t out of myself, Seanie and Fez [Stephen Ferris]. That’s where the chop tackle was invented,” Heaslip said.


As for the best individual player, the 95-times capped Irish international singled out a certain former French captain.

“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.” Heaslip told Rugby Lad‘s podcast the Up and Under.

Sean O’Brien’s respect for Richie McCaw

Unsurprisingly, former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw also got a mention, with O’Brien recalling the three-time World Rugby Player of the Year’s performance in a horror-show in 2012.

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

Despite the hammering to New Zealand in 2012, the back-row trio of O’Brien, Ferris and Heaslip is arguably the best Ireland has ever had.

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