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Dempsey Targets All Blacks Scalp

Dempsey Targets All Blacks Scalp

“The All Blacks are a quality side and one of the best in the world. But we know that we’re a bloody good side and we know that when we perform, we’re capable of beating anyone on our day.’ Girvan Dempsey is in bullish mood ahead of Saturday’s GUINNESS Series 2008 Test against New Zealand.

Getting fired up for big games has never been a problem for Girvan Dempsey, particularly at Croke Park which he feels is like ‘a second home’ for the Irish squad at this stage.

Looking back on recent seasons, Dempsey certainly likes playing at the Dublin 3 venue – a record of two tries in three appearances there (against France, England and Italy) speaks for itself.

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Restored to full-back for his first match under new Ireland coach Declan Kidney, the 33-year-old agreed that it was an achievement in itself to gain a place in Saturday’s starting line-up.

“Yeah, it certainly is. You just have to look at the talent around in this Irish team at the moment. It’s fantastic, the competition for places has never been like this before,” Dempsey said, ahead of his first start for Ireland since the Six Nations defeat to France last February.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of an Ireland squad. You have to be on your toes and perform in training and every opportunity you get, you grasp it and take it.

Keith Earls had a fantastic game against the Canadians at full-back. He’s put up his hand for selection now.

“And obviously then you have Rob Kearney who wants to play full-back and then the talented Geordan Murphy has been left out altogether. It’s very tough (to get picked).”

So what will his personal goal be for this weekend’s encounter?

“I think just to put in a solid performance and keep in Declan’s mindset for future selections.

“You relish these days and these big occasions. To have the opportunity of creating history and becoming the first Irish side to beat the All Blacks.

“Everyone is really hungry for that and wants to achieve that goal. It’s certainly not daunting – we’ve been down to New Zealand in recent years and gone close so we have the belief (to do it).”

Dempsey is looking forward to hearing the roars of the Croke Park crowd again and has urged Ireland fans to be as vocal as possible on Saturday evening.

“The games I’ve been involved in at Croke Park have been superb. The crowd have just been immense.

“They’ve really gotten behind the team and been very vocal. I hope that it will be very similar on Saturday…that the crowd will get behind us and we’ll give them quite a bit to cheer about.”

There is no doubt that there is a quiet confidence about the Ireland players heading into this Test, the 22nd meeting of Ireland and New Zealand.

The fear factor of facing the All Blacks is long gone and although Dempsey readily acknowledged the tourists’ main threats, he sees the teams as being more evenly matched than in years gone by.

“You look at their number 10, Dan Carter, who is an immense footballer. They have a very threatening back-three and then also obviously the back row, with Richie McCaw and the likes.

“All across the team they’re very strong but I think we’ve got the players to match them.”

He added: “The day (that we beat them) is going to come around and we want that day to be Saturday.

“We know that if we perform to the best of our ability and don’t have any lapses in concentration or give away silly scores, we will come out on the right side of the result.”