"He was playing 80 minutes every single week" - Isa Nacewa pays tribute to Heaslip
Leinster Rugby's finest import has soldiered in the trenches with Jamie Heaslip for a decade. Two key figures in the most golden of eras at one of the great European Rugby clubs.
New Zealand native Isa Nacewa arrived at Leinster at the start of the 2008/09 season, as Heaslip was beginning to peak in the Leinster number 8 shirt. The pair would go on together to help the province win three Heineken Cups, two more PRO12 titles to add to the one clinched in the previous season and a Challenge Cup.
Today Nacewa paid tribute to his now former team-mate on the day that he announced his retirement from the sport, highlighting a key ingredient of the Kildare man's success over the years.
"Ten years ago was the first time I came across Jamie," commented the Blues winger at the RDS. "He was playing eighty minutes every single week and he continued to do that and was consistent every single week. He enjoyed himself then and he was enjoying himself up until a year ago. Great first impressions and a real Leinster person through and through.
"His professionalism, first and foremost, was his resilience that he could show week-on-week, playing the best rugby, no matter what team he came [up] against. He did that for so long consistently and was always available for selection. I'd say from a coach's point of view there's not too many players that are available that don't carry injuries and who just always show up.
"And then off the field he's an absolute mentor to all the young guys here at Leinster and probably throughout Ireland, in the way he carries himself and what he does off the field, away from rugby but most importantly what he did on it for such a consistent amount of time."
Nacewa believes that Heaslip is one of the smartest rugby players he has ever played with and pointed to the 2016 World Try of the Year Award as the perfect example of that point.
The Kiwi feels that he has also left behind some big boots to fill.
"I definitely think his legacy is that he always left the jersey he played in, in a better place. And he is a massive driver here at Leinster to always leave his jersey in a better place. I think he did that with Ireland and he did it with the Lions and it will be his legacy forever. No one will ever forget Jamie Heaslip."