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Ospreys No9 praises Leinster No8

Guinness PRO12 Editor

27 May 2010

Mike Phillips has hailed Leinster powerhouse Jamie Heaslip as one of the best No8’s in the world ahead of Saturday’s Magners League Grand Final with the Ospreys.

Heaslip was crowned as the Irish province's Player of the Year last week to seal a stunning season for the back-rower.

The British & Irish Lions pair linked up to devastating effect both on and off the field during last summer's tour of South Africa before sharing a week-long trip to Las Vegas.

But, although Phillips has praised his close pal, the Ospreys scrum-half insists he is hell-bent on making history with a third league title for the Welsh region at the RDS.

"There is a lot of respect between the Ospreys and Leinster lads who went on the Lions and we mixed well on tour,” said Phillips, who played alongside Heaslip in all three Tests for Sir Ian McGeechan’s tourists 11 months ago.

"In fact, I even went on holiday with Jamie to Vegas afterwards. We had a great time and we're good mates.

"He's a confident and vocal player who has been in great form and is one of the best around at the moment – he has had a great year with Leinster and Ireland as well as the Lions tour.

"We played Leinster in Dublin a couple of weeks ago and he was on song again. Jamie's a great ball-carrier and we'll have to stop him at source.

"I am looking forward to meeting up with him but this match will be full on."

Leinster have not lost in Dublin since September 2008 when Irish arch rivals Munster whitewashed Michael Cheika's men by 18 points.

But Phillips believes the Ospreys can complete their own Grand Slam of away successes across the Irish Sea this season.

"Leinster have some star quality in Jamie, Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy. They have gained some great experiences over the last couple of years for club, country and the Lions,” added Phillips.

"But it would be a great achievement for us to win the league and end the season with silverware.

"Teams have found going to Dublin difficult in recent times but we're really confident.

"We've already won in Munster, Ulster and Connacht this season and now we have a great chance of creating our own history."