Heineken Cup
Dempsey backs Leinster to shine at Twickenham
January 13, 2009
Leinster fullback Girvan Dempsey grapples for the ball with a Castres player during their Heineken Cup match at the Stade Pierre Antoine, December 12 2008
Leinster fullback Girvan Dempsey believes his side can bounce back against Wasps at Twickenham © Getty Images

Leinster fullback Girvan Dempsey believes that his side can use the surroundings to their advantage when they take on Wasps at Twickenham in their vital Heineken Cup Pool Two match on Saturday.

Leinster carry a three-point advantage over Wasps at the top of the group, but after a costly loss to Castres in the last round, all could change for the Irish side with defeat at Twickenham.

"This is the big one - made all the bigger after our Round Four slip-up at Castres Olympique," said Dempsey, who has made 63 Heineken Cup appearances during his career. "It meant we didn't come away with the win we wanted and needed and that, along with Wasps beating Edinburgh, really opened up the Pool.

"It makes this is our make-or-break Pool game and, as Twickenham is such a special ground, we just hope the game lives up to its billing."

Dempsey is confident that Leinster can pick up another win over the two-time champions Wasps, but is not taking that for granted despite their 41-11 thrashing of the London club in Round Two.

Dempsey's confidence is buoyed by the number of big names littering the Leinster squad, many of whom have experience of playing, and winning, at Twickenham.

"If you look across our squad not only have a lot of the boys played at Twickenham but there are others, like Rocky Elsom and CJ van der Linde, who have plenty of the big match experience playing at some of the biggest grounds in the world," he said. "The players certainly will not be daunted by either the size of the ground or the crowd. We will not be dwelling on the last game against Wasps, we will treat this as an entirely fresh game.

"Wasps are now a totally different side to the one we played in October and have recently hit some good form - and when they do that and their confidence is up, they are a very difficult side to beat."

Dempsey believes that his side's 18-15 loss to Castres could have galvanised them for the tough test ahead. "We know that Wasps, just like Castres, are very physical at ruck time and we will have to be more clinical in clearing out and getting the ball away quickly for our backs," said Dempsey. "Our consistency is a lot better this season but we still have a few elements that need sorting out.

"We have been generally happy with our performances this season - aside of the loss to Connacht in Galway and the one away to Castres - and over in France we know that some of our fundamentals let us down, including conceding far too many turnovers."

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