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Lions match-up: Wycliff Palu v Jamie Heaslip

  
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12/21/2012
By ARU Media Unit


 

Wycliff Palu

Jamie Heaslip

Position

No. 8

No. 8

Height

194cm

193cm

Weight

119kg

109kg

Born

27 July 1982

15 December 1983

Age

30

29

Debut

2006 v England, Melbourne

2006 v Pacific Islands, Dublin

Caps

46

52

Points

5 (1T)

35 (7T)

 

The countdown to next year’s British & Irish Lions arrival on Australian soil for the first time since2001 continues as we continue to look at the many potential match-ups between next year’s Qantas Wallabies and Lions.

The number 8 is a solid and central figure on the pitch and with Rugby powerhouses like Australia’s Wycliff Palu and Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip in contention to pull on a jersey during next year’s Lions Tour it is yet another match-up that will provide fans with an exciting display of Rugby. 
 
 
Jamie Heaslip
 
Educated at Newbridge College where he was a representative at the Schools Cup competition, Jamie Heaslip is the son of former Shannon player, Richard Heaslip, who was a Colonel in the Irish Army. His Rugby continued during his time at Dublin University before being called into the Leinster squad for the 2004/05 season. 
 
His international career for Ireland began in the Under 21s, where he made a series of impressive displays in their run to the 2004 World Championship final, which was duly recognised with a nomination for Under 21 Player of the Year. He also became a representative of the Ireland A side at the Churchill Cup.
 
Heaslip debuted for Leinster in March 2005 and has since cemented his position in the side with over 70 appearances for the team. 
 
He made his first senior international debut for Ireland just a year later in 2006, becoming the 1000th man to represent Ireland in his first match against the Pacific Islands. 
 
Despite missing out on the 2007 World Cup he returned in 2008 making the number 8 jersey for Ireland his own by starting in all but one of Ireland’s Six Nations matches before playing in the Tour against New Zealand and Australia.
 
He also starred in all three of Ireland’s 2008 autumn international matches under new Coach Declan Kidney, which included the two wins over Argentina and Canada. 
 
Heaslip displayed reliable form with the ability to step up when required. With seven tries to his name, he has the certain ability to add points to the scoreboard. In 2009 he scored the only try against France in the Six nations tournament opener and the winning try against Scotland at Murrayfield.
 
He also has the added benefit of having experience playing within a British & Irish Lions side, when he was called up to join the 2009 Tour to South Africa. He started in all three Tests and provided a considerable display in the final third Test victory in Johannesburg, despite the Lions losing the series narrowly by 2-1.
 
His imposing form again paid off that year when he was named as a nominee for the IRB World Player of the Year.
 
The next year continued to be a success for the Irish 8 as he joined Leinster in their run to the semi -final against eventual winners Toulouse, crossing the line once again for the only try in the team’s 26-16 loss. 
 
Heaslip is not one to be intimidated, receiving a 5 week ban for kneeing All Blacks Captain, Ritchie McCaw in Ireland’s 66-28 loss to New Zealand that year in New Plymouth. 
 
He returned once again in 2011 for the Six Nations and from there was named in Ireland’s World Cup side where he was once again a central figure for their campaign. 
 
He has continued to step in 2012 as a key figure for Ireland and was recently named to take the Captaincy reigns for Ireland during the November international against South Africa, following a series of injuries within the side. He has since been named to potentially lead the 2013 Lions next year.  
 
 
Wycliff Palu
 
Wyliff Palu debuted for NSW in 2003, before making his way into Super Rugby in 2005 with the NSW Waratahs. A year later he made his Test debut with the Qantas Wallabies and has proven a damaging ball carrier with a huge presence on the field ever since.
 
Whilst Heaslip has the experience in a Lions Tour, Palu has called up for two Rugby World Cup campaigns with Australia, being named in both the 2007 and 2011 tournaments. 
 
Under Coach Robbie Deans, Palu has become a regular fixture on the intnernational scene, appearing in 19 of the 28 available Tests through 2008 and 2009 due to impressive performances in the Tri Nations and Spring Tour.  Like Heaslip, his reliable and positive performances for his country have been duly recognised. Palu was awarded the Matt Burke Cup as the Waratahs’ Player’s Player and was a runner up behind George Smith in the John Eales Medal tally the same year.  
 
A hand injury ruled him out of a few international Tests in 2009, yet, as always he made a remarkable comeback against the All Blacks in the Tri Nations opener and on that year’s Spring Tour of Europe.
 
He was sidelined again with a knee injury in 2010, before a shoulder and hamstring problems saw him play just two of the matches for Australia in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
 
Prior to the knee injury in 2010 Palu had missed just five matches over the three seasons between 2007 and 2010 with the NSW Waratahs.
 
 
Despite a bad run of injuries, when Palu takes to the pitch his influence proves advantageous for his side.
 
Palu made an injury return earlier this year with impressive form against the All Blacks during this year’s inaugural Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship. He was also a powerful influence during the 3 Test series against six Nations Champions, Wales in June which the Qantas Wallabies won 3-0.
 
His recent stint during the Qantas Wallabies’ Spring Tour of Europe also added some much needed strength after a huge year of Rugby. And with 2013 shaping up to be even bigger there’s no doubt Palu’s huge presence and ability will once again prove beneficial for the Men in Gold should he be named to join them to face the Lions next year.
 
Although Palu has less Test caps and points, there is no doubting he has the same imposing skill as Heaslip. The bout of injuries has taken its toll on Palu’s statistics, however if he is the one to pull on the number 8 jersey and go up against the likes of Heaslip during next year’s Lions Tour, a thrilling display of Rugby is sure to ensue and delight many a fan. 
 
With just a year between their ages, both Heaslip and Palu made their international senior debut during the same year. They have had similar successes within their provincial tournaments and both been named and nominated for awards to reflect their achievements.
 
At 10kg heavier, Palu has more power and strength behind him at the back of the scrum, with a demonstrated knack to break through the line. However if Heaslip’s try-scoring ability is anything to go by, he too has the capacity to help the Lions across the line on Australian soil, for the first time in 12 years.
 
Don’t miss your chance to see classic Rugby match-ups between Palu and Heaslip during next year’s historic Lions Tour – get all the information on the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia here. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday 18 February 2013 so don’t miss out.