Friday 15 December 2017

Dempsey expects fringe players to stake their claim

Girvan Dempsey pictured at a press conference this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Girvan Dempsey pictured at a press conference this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

While on paper Leinster should comfortably leave Treviso on Sunday with a winning bonus point, Leo Cullen only has to point to what happened in Murrayfield last weekend to see the consequences of taking your eye off the ball.

Several senior players are due back from injury and will be playing with something of a point of prove with so many big games coming down the line in the coming months.

A Sunday morning kick-off in Italy, with a small attendance, poses its own problems but even still, it's difficult to imagine Leinster slipping up.

Even with the majority of their front-liners playing in Rome tomorrow, Leo Cullen still has plenty of selection headaches, which is a testament to the strength in depth of the province.

In his previous role with the academy, Girvan Dempsey has worked with a lot of the younger players who will be expected to carry the mantle during this Six Nations window.

Dempsey, like Cullen, doesn't expect those standards to drop in the coming weeks.

"It's great to be in a position to say that there is healthy competition across the board," the backs coach maintained.

"Everyone is on their toes and is constantly trying to impress in every training session.

"We're fortunate and it's a great position to be in because during this block of four games, it's so important to have a strong squad and a bit of depth to be able to compete.

"Munster have gone four points ahead of us and Ospreys are three. We're lying in third, realising that this is a massively important block for us.

"If you want to be competitive in two competitions, which we feel we are, and to be able to continue work during the international windows, you need a strong squad and you need players to be fit and available and to be competing.

"We've got a lot of young guys coming through as well. It showed back during the November internationals, those young guys took their opportunity. They got the jersey and didn't want to let go of it and held onto it in the European matches.

"A similar situation comes now during this Six Nations. When the international guys come back, we're moving towards the business end of the season and the big days where everyone wants to be involved. The guy holding the jersey doesn't want to let go. It's a really strong position to be and we're fortunate to be in it."

Threat

If Leinster are switched on, on Sunday, Treviso shouldn't really cause them many problems but Dempsey pointed to the reverse fixture at the RDS to argue the case that the Italian minnows can indeed pose a threat to his side.

"They're very strong," Dempsey insisted.

"You look at their performances, particularly against Glasgow at home and against Cardiff at home, they were very good.

"Traditionally they've always had a strong pack. They've always been very physical, aggressive defence and they score tries if you give them the opportunity which they showed against us in the RDS.

"We knocked off and they managed to get in behind us and take their opportunities. It's going to be a test for us because the last time we played in the Pro12 was against Zebre. It's a great opportunity for guys coming back from injury and also for young guys to grab hold of the jersey and not let go."

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