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McEntee: B&I focus on Bedford

Leinster's British & Irish Cup coach Colin McEntee has backed his charges to dig deep and display real resilience when the province take on the Bedford Blues at Goldington Road on Saturday afternoon (KO: 3pm).

Having qualified from Pool A in second place behind Worcester Warriors, who are the pacesetters in the Division One Championship, Leinster now face a tough tie away to the second-placed English side who include in their ranks former Leinster winger Brendan Burke.

Speaking ahead of the clash, McEntee admitted that the hurried nature of the fixture, coming as it does less than 24 hours after the senior team's Magners League clash against the Scarlets, was hardly ideal but that the squad were fully focused on earning a semi-final berth.

"It has been a challenge this week with so many players away on Irish Camp, Magners League preparation and Ireland Under 20 commitments, but that merely serves to hone our focus ahead of an exciting knock out game," he revealed.

"The B&I Cup is one of just three competitions that we compete in at the top level and so it's vital that we get off to a strong start.

"A lot of hard work has gone into qualifying out of our pool and the players don't want to let up now. To get out of a group with Worcester, Newport away and the Cornish Pirates was no mean feat and the competition has gone from strength to strength again this year.

"I suppose that a lot of the panel can look to the likes of Andrew Conway, Ian Madigan, Jack McGrath and Ian McKinley for motivation as they have all benefited from senior game time in recent weeks. This week is, in essence, a cup final for us."