IRELAND captain Jamie Heaslip expressed his pride at the willingness of his young team-mates to put their bodies on the line to keep Fiji scoreless on Saturday.
The Leinster forward, leading his country for the second time, feels the commitment shown by newcomers such as Craig Gilroy and Iain Henderson was a key element in the 53-0 win at Thomond Park in Limerick.
“I was quite proud of the performance of the squad,” said Heaslip. “It was a privilege to lead out a side that was full of such an enthusiastic bunch of guys.” The wounds of a 60-0 mauling at the hands of New Zealand on their summer tour have not healed completely but Heaslip believes shutting out an attack-hungry Fiji team bodes well ahead of Argentina’s visit to Dublin on Saturday.
He said: “It is really hard in international rugby to be able to shut a team out and give them no scores at all. Fiji kept the pressure on and had a good bit of ball near our line but guys stepped up, put their bodies on the line and stepped up at pretty significant times.”
World champions New Zealand followed up beating Scotland by moving through the gears after a sluggish start to beat Italy 42-10 on Saturday.
Leading 13-7 at half-time, the All Blacks had to wait until the 49th minute before they registered a second try when Ma’a Nonu crashed over from close range before Cory Jane’s score and a late Julian Savea double. Aaron Cruden kicked 17 points.
In Lille, Vincent Clerc scored his 33rd and 34th test tries in only three minutes as France quickly recovered from a slow start to beat a gallant Argentina 39-22 on Saturday.