Saturday 18 November 2017

Dempsey: Young players must step up and take chance

Leinster's James Tracy carries team-mate Cian Kelleher during training in Donnybrook (Photo: Sportsfile)
Leinster's James Tracy carries team-mate Cian Kelleher during training in Donnybrook (Photo: Sportsfile)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Backs coach Girvan Dempsey has urged the young players in the Leinster squad to seize their opportunity in the coming weeks.

With a fresh Six Nations campaign just around the corner, opportunity is set to knock for several players who have come through the Academy under Dempsey's tutelage and the former Ireland full-back wants to see them make the most of it.

Leinster take on Ospreys this evening before back-to-back Champions Cup games that are ultimately dead rubbers, with the Blues having already been knocked out of the tournament, which may prompt coach Leo Cullen to blood some of the less experienced players.

"It's making sure that you're ready when the opportunity arrives," Dempsey said.

"That's how our strength and conditioning guys plan things out to keep things ticking over, that these young guys are physically ready when they step up to play, that they're fit and they're healthy.

"Even back when I was playing, you always needed a bit of luck if somebody got an injury and you stepped in you make sure that you took that chance and you take hold of it.

"It's always hard to take a jersey off someone when they're playing well, so it is a bit of luck, you do need a bit of luck and the younger guys have had a bit of luck but they're also making a bit of luck in how they prepare themselves."

On the back of Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier's call ups to Ireland's training squad this week, Dempsey believes that several more of his players can soon follow in the same path.

"I think there are a lot of guys in our Academy system and development programme who are very capable and it's them now progressing along and taking the opportunity when it arises," he said.

"I suppose it's a bit of luck as well, those guys keeping fit during that period, but there are definitely a number of guys who can step up and will step up during this Six Nations period if we have a number of players away on international duty.

"You mentioned Garry and Josh and a few others but it's a testament to the work that they do off the field. . . Ross Molony. . . there are a number of guys who are so professional and have such mature heads on their shoulders and work so hard and are so diligent in how they prepare themselves for a match.

"A lot of the time that's half the battle so if you can do that you're not as nervous, you feel more in control, you feel more comfortable going onto the field that you're not second guessing yourself in any way.

"You know what the coach requires of you, you know the systems and you've got a clear head and you just go out and perform.

"I think that Josh and Garry and Ross, all these young kids, are learning and doing now and it's showing, and I think during that Six Nations period . . . if you look back to the World Cup period, that's when we blooded a lot of guys and they did extremely well for us.

"So there will be those guys again, plus possibly some more."

With several players missing from training on Monday due to the Ireland camp, Dempsey admitted that it has been a "challenging week but one that was good to have".

Leinster supporters will be hoping that it hasn't indeed been too disruptive as their side looks to build on two impressive wins over the festive period as they take on an Ospreys outfit who are currently five places behind them but significantly, just four points outside of the play-off spots.

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