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Thursday 8 December 2016

Girv: I am confident in myself

Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey believes in the ability of his team in the Rugby Champions Cup
Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey believes in the ability of his team in the Rugby Champions Cup

First time head coach. First time backs coach. First time scrum coach. First time captain.

There is a first time for everything, they say; a first time for everyone too.

All these key Leinster decision-makers will come to The Champions Cup this season with an abundance of first-class rugby experience, just not in their specific roles.

"I am confident in my own ability," said the backs assistant Girvan Dempsey.

"I think all the coaches are all very clear in how we want the team to play and we prepare as best we can.

"We all have huge experience whether it be coaching or playing at European level. We know exactly what's required.

"You guys will be able to test that at four o'clock on Sunday," he said, in relation to the post-mortem.

"Personally, I'm very confident in my own ability and in all the other coaches and the squad we have."

The honeymoon period has been exciting, even exotic, as Leinster have turned back the years in their return to the values that made them the hottest show in town.

They will have to take the step-up into Europe without the hamstrung Rob Kearney.

"He's a major concern for the weekend," said Dempsey.

"It looks like he has some tears to the fibres in his hamstring. We have a number of options at full-back."

The mission of Kearney will be defused by the remarkable return of Isa Nacewa, the new captain leaning on his right and left hand vice-men, Jonathan Sexton and the deposed Jamie Heaslip, should the need arise.

"He's been excellent," Dempsey said succinctly.

"He's been an outstanding addition to the squad. He's had such an influence among the young players, just the way he goes about his work how professional he is, how open and supportive he is to young players.

"He is a guy who has been around, seen rugby in different parts of the world.

"It's phenomenal how good a shape he's in, how he's fitted back into the groove seamlessly."

There is also positive news about Luke Fitzgerald.

"In the game against Treviso, we were under pressure at our sticks and Luke came in and made a double hit. He got a stinger on the shoulder.

"He went and saw a consultant during the week. He was happy and passed him. He will be ready to come back into training tomorrow."

For all of Leinster's difficulties last season and the bulging wallets of French and English clubs, Dempsey rightly pointed out they were "a foot away" from the final.

"It certainly is a challenge," he said.

"You look at the investment that teams in France have put into the depth of squad.

"You look at how the Irish provinces have competed over the last few years though and we got to a semi-final last year.

"Everyone says we were a foot away from a drop goal winning the game and the other provinces are certainly competitive."

The growing power of the English clubs, through broadcast remunerations, has been seen in their off-season signings.

For instance, Wasps have brought in George Smith, Bradley Davies, Charles Piutau and Frank Halai.

"We are constantly looking at our own players and trying to develop more Irish-grown players coming through.

"That will obviously impact the international team and make it better. The more of those international standard players you can produce in your province the more competitive you are going to be at European level."

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