Heaslip: Ireland ready for Six Nations opener with Wales


Ireland back-row Jamie Heaslip believes Joe Schmidt's squad are well set for their Six Nations opener against Wales in Dublin on Sunday.

Schmidt named his starting XV for the first match on Friday, with Heaslip joined in the back row by debutant CJ Stander and his Munster team-mate Tommy O'Donnell.

Defending champions Ireland go into the tournament looking to become the first side to win three successive titles and Heaslip is confident they can make a winning start.

"We have been talking today and we are in a very good mind space," he said.

"We know exactly what we have to do, we know the threats posed by Wales and we're confident in our own ability, but on the day it's who makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win. 

"We are in a place where we think we can give ourselves a good shot at it."

Ireland are without Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney (both hamstring) for the match, but Schmidt has been impressed with the way Stander has adapted to his first international call-up.

"He's been fitting in really well," the coach said. "He's certainly a really committed character.

"He's made sure he slotted in the best he can and we just felt it would be a good mix for us, particularly in the absence of Sean O'Brien."