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...Shane Horgan and Michael Cheika talk to reporters at Wednesday's press conference in the Wesley Bar at Donnybrook...

Leinster opening their Heineken Cup Pool 2 campaign at home to Gloucester on Saturday. See below for pre-match quotes from Michael Cheika, Shane Horgan and Girvan Dempsey.

SHANE HORGAN (On the standards in the Guinness Premiership and Magners League): "Everyone is aware of the standard of players in the Premiership but the standard is no less now in the Magners League.

"The two competitions are closer than ever and that may be the point that was being put across (by Ronan O'Gara). English players are certainly aware we have good players in all the Magners League countries and we're aware of the standard over there.

"I haven't seen what Ronan said but the point is probably overblown. It's just the difference between the media interest in the Premiership and the Magners League."

...Cheika downs his coffee...

MICHAEL CHEIKA (On Leinster's form): "We have got this week to get out there and show what we can do. We need to be able to perform week in, week out at a good level and that is the target for me, and for the squad, and we're going to stay out there and prepare as long as possible, for as long as it takes.

"We have got to work harder to overcome any issues we have and we have got to remain competititve."

...Leinster and Ireland centre/winger Shane Horgan takes part in a TV interview...

MICHAEL CHEIKA (On squad injuries): "We've still got a substantial number in our squad - we've 27 players with doubts over Cameron Jowitt, Chris Whitaker and Will Green.

"I feel that we still have a pretty good squad, but at some stage we have to draw a line in the sand, tomorrow (Thursday), to see if these guys will play. Will has had a problem with his back and neck so we will have to wait and see how he pulls up after his day off.

"If we were to pick today we would have to say 'no', Chris would not be available for selection. But we have got an extra day with the game being on Saturday.

"After Cillian Willis (in terms of scrum half options) there is Niall Ronan or Andy Dunne. At tighthead if Will Green does not make it, Ronan McCormack or Harry Vermaas will slot in."

...Girvan Dempsey at the Donnybrook press conference...

GIRVAN DEMPSEY (on Irish v English teams in Europe): "We're more accustomed to playing English teams in the European Cup now. We (Leinster) have had an English team every year in our group and we're fortunate enough that we've played good rugby against them. The statistics will show that we've beaten them more often than we've lost to them.

"Our confidence has increased, especially in these last two seasons with the style of rugby we're playing. It bodes well going in against English teams that we can adapt our game. Our pack showed against Munster recently that they are well up for it, that all that talk of them not being up to the job is just not true."

...Dempsey and Cheika face the press...

MICHAEL CHEIKA (On the home support): "Having a home game first, I saw the boost that having a huge support gave us at the Munster game in the Magners League and hopefully we will have a similar crowd on Saturday. Every try will count and because of that we have got to take advantage of playing at home in the first round."

...Cheika who is embarking on his second season of Heineken Cup rugby...

MICHAEL CHEIKA (On preparations for Gloucester): "They can play with width but they can also play a tight, conservative game. So you've got to prepare to defend against them across the field and also in the tight, and that's a real challenge.

"The way we set up our strategy and our defence will be directly related to how they pick their team. But we're quite well prepared in terms of our knowledge of them - the guys are well prepared after doing a lot of homework on their opposites - and I've been pretty happy with the way things have been going this week."

**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**

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19 June 2018
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