Girvan Dempsey will earn his 70th Ireland cap when he lines out at full-back against Wales on Sunday. IrishRugby.ie looks at the Leinster player’s career to date.
GIRVAN DEMPSEY (TERENURE COLLEGE/LEINSTER)
Born: Dublin, October 2, 1975
Height: 6ft; Weight: 14st 4lbs
Leinster Caps: 118
Leinster Points: 170 (27 tries, 4 conversions, 8 penalties and 1 drop goal)
Leinster Debut: v Benetton Treviso, 1996
Ireland Caps: 69
Ireland Points: 70 (14 tries)
Ireland Debut: v Georgia, 1998
– He has retained his place in the Irish side, ahead of Leicester’s Geordan Murphy, for what will be his seventh Test appearance against Wales. He has yet to score against the Dragons
– Has been in good form for Leinster this season, scoring three tries and a conversion in eight games, despite a recent ankle injury. He signed his first contract with the province shortly before Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam-winning coach Mike Ruddock took over the reins
– His 70th Irish cap will see him equal the mark of Ulster centre Kevin Maggs, who is fifth on the list of Ireland’s all-time most-capped players
– He was a replacement for the duration of the 2006 Six Nations tournament, and only got onto the field for last March’s Triple Crown-clinching win over England at Twickenham. Only three of his 14 Test tries have come in the Six Nations tournament
– This weekend’s clash in Cardiff marks his 55th cap at full-back (including seven appearances as a replacement), and his first Six Nations start since the 2005 tournament. He played nine Tests on the wing between 1998 and 2005, with also six games as a replacement playing out of position
– He played 29 consecutive Tests from the summer of 2003 through to Ireland’s meeting with Australia in November 2005 – prior to that run, he missed internationals due to a persistent groin injury
– Came up through the ranks at Terenure College, went on to study at the National College of Ireland and on to provincial and international success. He has scored two tries for Ireland from a wing berth, and 12 as a full-back
– His last Test try was against Romania in November 2005. A former Ireland Under-21 and ‘A’ cap, he has also scored, on the senior international stage, against Georgia (3), Italy (3), Argentina, England, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Russia (2) and Scotland
– His international career will probably be most remembered for his try in the left corner at Twickenham in 2004 which helped Ireland on their way to securing their first Triple Crown since 1985
ON THE 2007 SIX NATIONS:
“There’s definitely a confidence there (regarding our chances of winning it) but I think as a squad we’re realistic – we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves.
“There’s a lot of public and media hype going around about this being Ireland’s year, that we’re going to win it and do x, y and z but as a squad we are very realistic.
“We know it is a tough tournament and a tough championship to win.
“You look at England, who have struggled to win it as well in that situation and so we know we have to build on our performances in the autumn series and look at the first game against Wales as our crucial one.”
ON FACING WALES:
“Wales are a side who are showing a bit of form – all their regional sides have done well in Europe, and in Magners League they are doing pretty well too.
“They are going to be out to prove a point this weekend, to try and kick start their campaign under their new coach Gareth Jenkins. We simply have to perform to a very high level, because this Welsh side can be very dangerous.”
ON COMPETITION FOR THE FULL-BACK POSITION:
“Competition is great, I think it’s not just at full-back but all across the board (in this Irish squad). And from my point of view, it’s very competitive in my position.
“I think it’s just good for all of us. It puts pressure on me and it gives me that impetus that I have to be on my game at all times.
“I prefer the competition. I think I react better when the pressure is on, I enjoy pressure situations – I enjoy someone fighting for the same place in the team and keeping me on my toes.
“The case in point has been Geordan over the last few years.
“He has been playing superb rugby and I have been always put under pressure in the press – questions like ‘is he playing well enough? or should he be here?’ – but I feel I am answering my critics.”
ON HIS RECENT ANKLE INJURY:
“I thought there was some sort of break there. The pain and the noise, I heard a crack. It turned out to be strained ligaments and a lot of fluid on the knee, but they were talking four to six weeks. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it was three to four weeks.
“It’s tough, especially with a fellow like Geordan waiting there. You don’t want to miss out, you don’t want to give anyone a chance to get ahead of you.”
ON HIS COACHES AT LEINSTER:
“They (Michael Cheika and David Knox) have just opened my mind to different aspects of the game. David has been very good in getting me to look at things in different ways. He’s very influential with the back three. They have helped to reignite me.
“It’s amazing how much a factor the mind is. You can be the best in the world, but, if you don’t believe it, you won’t do it.”