Jamie Heaslip pleased with his performances despite Ireland's disappointing campaign
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 22/03/13 4:44pm
Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip insists he is happy with his form despite coming in for criticism during the RBS Six Nations.
Heaslip's performances were questioned as Ireland registered their worst finish in the championship since it was expanded to six teams in 2000.
Ireland had started well with victory over Wales, however that was as good as it got as they suffered losses to England, Scotland and Italy while they coughed up a 10-point advantage against France to draw.
In the end only a slightly better points difference spared Ireland the embarrassment of finishing bottom of the standings.
And although Heaslip was disappointed with the overall results, the 29-year-old has shrugged off suggestions he underperformed.
"I think I played well in four out of the five games," Heaslip told Sky Sports.
"I was disappointed against England, it was a scrappy game, but I was very happy with my performances against Wales, Scotland, France and Italy despite the results.
"I've come to realise as captain you represent the team so you take the brunt of the criticism if things don't go well. It is part and parcel of captaincy.
"Whatever is said, though, it doesn't bother me. I have got thick skin. I will just continue to focus on my game and what the coaches say."
Heaslip had gone into the championship as the leading contender for the No 8 jersey for British and Irish Lions tour - with head coach Warren Gatland even name dropping him in terms of the captaincy.
However Toby Faletau, Ben Morgan, Tom Wood and Johnnie Beattie were among those who strengthened their own claims.
And Heaslip, who has been capped 60 times and toured with the Lions in 2009, insists that with such strong competition across the back-row all he can do is work hard over the last few weeks of the regular season for Leinster.
"There are so many really good back-row players across Ireland and Britain," he added.
"You can't really think about it, you can only focus on yourself and your own game and then hope that your name is read out.
"It is obviously my aim to go on the tour and I will be doing my best to do so. Hopefully I will get picked - I will be bitterly disappointed if I am not."
Jamie Heaslip is the brand ambassador for FirstCape, the leading South African wine brand and sponsors of the upcoming British & Irish Lions 2013 Tour of Australia. Jamie was at St Michaels College, Dublin, to launch the FirstCape rugby coaching master class competition exclusive to Tesco Ireland.