Leinster hand Dempsey key role in youth development
GIRVAN DEMPSEY has been appointed elite development officer at Leinster, the province he represented 175 times until his retirement last season.
The Terenure man, who won 82 caps for Ireland after making his debut against Georgia in 1998, will work with academy manager Colin McEntee in helping to identify young talent at schools and club level throughout the province.
South African Wayne Mitchell joins Dempsey as elite development officer and the two will also serve as assistant coaches to Leinster's U-20 side alongside head coach, former Ireland second-row Gabriel Fulcher. Mitchell has been working as a development officer in the province since 2006 and the two take over from Richie Murphy, who has been promoted to the position of Leinster senior skills and kicking coach.
Leinster open their Magners League campaign with a tricky trip to Glasgow on Friday and will be seeking significant improvement after under-strength selections lost to Wasps and Leicester in tough pre-season friendly fixtures.
Glasgow finished preparations at Adams Park last weekend when a young Warriors selection toughed it out with a full-strength Wasps until pack power helped the English outfit to a 34-17 victory.
Following long-term injury to Stan Wright, Leinster are hopeful tight-head Mike Ross will have recovered from a hamstring strain in time for Glasgow. Ballymena's Simon Shawe and Ireland U-20 prop Stewart Maguire featured in the position against the Tigers last Friday and coped well against the powerful Leicester scrum.
Meanwhile, Ulster prop BJ Botha has been linked with an early return to South African club rugby in time for next year's Super 15 season.
Johannesburg-based franchise The Lions are desperate to recruit experienced internationals and Botha is one of a host of players reported to be on their wish list, together with South Africa captain John Smit and fellow Springboks JP Pietersen, Butch James, Joe van Niekerk and Ryan Kankowski.
Botha has been featuring in the Springboks' Tri Nations campaign this summer and is understood to be keen on returning to South Africa with a year to go until the World Cup. However, Botha is still under contract at Ulster and a switch would require a substantial transfer fee to be paid to Ravenhill.
Connacht's injury crisis ahead of their opening game of the Magners League against the Dragons on Saturday has deepened with five more players joining the doubtful list following training yesterday.
Irish hooker Sean Cronin is deemed doubtful and new signing Barry Fa'amusaili pulled a hamstring and is out for three to four weeks. In addition, there are doubts over centre Keith Matthews, and scrum-halves Frank Murphy and Cillian Willis.