Humphreys backs Leinster to complete Euro triumph
Published 19/04/2011 | 05:00
Having watched Leinster destroy his beloved Ulster last Saturday, David Humphreys' money is on Joe Schmidt's men to lift the Heineken Cup.
The former Ireland fly-half, who is currently operations director with his native province, reckons Brian McLaughlin's stars were emotionally drained after their own European exit at the hands of Northampton.
But he was impressed with the hosts at the RDS and thinks they have what it takes to win their second title in three years.
"It's very hard to look past Leinster," he said at the launch of this year's Heineken Kinsale Sevens tournament yesterday. "If they play to their best I have no doubt they can win the Heineken Cup."
Humphreys believes Ulster are making progress; they sit third in the Magners League table going into the penultimate game of the season, against Connacht.
"We have looked down very enviously at what Munster and Leinster have been doing in Europe over the last couple of years and we're obviously aspiring to get back competing with them, but we're striving to be as close as possible," he said.
"All you can ask for at this stage of the season is that a place in the top four is still in our hands.
"At the start of the season, it's very easy to talk about closing the gap with Munster and Leinster, with the top teams, but in the last number of years we've finished seventh, eighth and ninth in the Magners League.
"For us, to be where we are now -- this season will have been successful no matter what happens because we have moved forward."
The Irish provinces are in first, second and third in the league, and Humphreys believes Irish rugby is in a good place going into this year's World Cup.
"Ireland need depth and the World Cup winners will be the team who copes best with losing key players throughout the tournament.
"Ireland, in most positions, have depth and they showed against England they have the potential of producing performances that will allow them to compete with the top teams."
- Leinster have invited supporters to an open training session at the RDS this morning. The team will train from 10.30-11.30 before signing autographs between 11.30 and 12.0. Admission is free.