Ireland travel to Rome without Jonny Sexton, who was originally named in the starting line-up but was then withdrawn after he suffered a fresh ankle injury on Thursday.
That means Craig Gilroy's return on the right wing in place of Fergus McFadden is the only change made by Declan Kidney, whose side will be bidding to end a run of three matches without a win.
Italy are also without a win since the opening round of the competition but there were marked improvements last time out against England, and Heaslip is only too aware of the threat posed by the Azzurri.
"If you look back on when we were there the last time, we had to get a drop goal in the last minute to win the game," said Heaslip.
"They have a very good scrum and they are very good at holding onto the ball and they have scored by outworking the opposition.
"We just have to try and be clinical and take our opportunities. There have been a lot of good things done by this young [Ireland] side and I think this team has a very bright future."