Former Ireland and Leinster great Jamie Heaslip thinks that Ireland’s 2009 Grand Slam winning team would have beaten the 2018 one.
The 95 times capped No.8 who announced his retirement from the game at the start of the month due to a back injury after a glittering thirteen year professional career, believes that the 2009 team’s greater number of ‘stand-out’ players would give them the edge over their counterparts.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast the 34 year-old who was a part of the 2009 team, gave his verdict on which team would triumph,
“It’s a different game from ’09 in terms of how they ref the game, the players. For sport, my gut says ’09” he said.
Before stating that the 2018 squad was ‘much better’ than the 2009 version and that Joe Schmidt’s men were in a ‘really strong position’ going forward.
“I said it to a couple of people, I think the 2018 squad is a much better squad and I think they are in a really strong position going forward because to win competitions, to win the World Cup let’s not beat around the bush, you need a strong squad because with injuries and rotation, you need 31 players that can start no matter what”.
But that the two-time Lions tourist’s ‘gut’ still backed the 2009 vintage to beat the current team.
“They are in the best position they have ever been squad-wise. I just think there were more individual stand-out players in the ’09 team, that’s where my gut kinda goes on”.
In a wide-ranging interview Heaslip who made over 200 appearances for his home province and won three European Cups with the Dublin-based outfit, also shared his belief that less and less players would spend their careers with only one club and that more Irish players would head to France or England to experience new things and earn more money.