Watch: Girvan Dempsey Picks His Fantasy Back Line

Watch: Girvan Dempsey Picks His Fantasy Back Line

Along with Leo Cullen, Girvan Dempsey has had to adapt to life on the other side of the sideline at Leinster. The province's legendary full-back is working as the club's backs coach, progressing from the role of Leinster's academy manager in 2015.

Dempsey features in the latest of our #BehindTheTeam series with Laya Healthcare, and in the video below he offers an insight into how his job works. In addition to that, he picks his all-time favourite back line, and only one Irishman has made the cut. You won't be surprised to hear who that is.

Dempsey is interesting on a number of topics, including what makes a good back.

I'm looking for a smart footballer, a guy who understands his position, who understands the requirements of his role within the team, and also you like a guy who is willing to express himself, who is not afraid to show his skillset, has good feet, bit of acceleration. Overall, you want a player who is determined, who wants to progress, wants to achieve honours, and wants to show what he's capable of.

Dempsey makes the point that it is not always about size: that intelligence and an ability to find and exploit space is the most important thing, particularly as a centre. So how has Dempsey found the transition from player to coach? He says that he prefers being a player as you can control every aspect of your preparation, whereas coaches don't have that control.


His advice to younger players is simply to enjoy the game, while all the while working hard on the skills relevant to your position. This is reminiscent of advice proferred once by Brian O'Driscoll, who stressed the importance of practising strengths as well as weaknesses.

O'Driscoll is included in Dempsey's fantasy back-line, alongside the Irish centre's favourite ever player: Australia's Tim Horan. The late Joost Van Der Westhuizen is Dempsey's favourite scrum-half, with All Black legend Dan Carter the pick at out-half. The wingers have both represented New Zealand: Christian Cullen and the late Jonah Lomu. Cullen is the ninth-highest try scorer in international rugby, but his strike-rate is among the greatest ever: he touched down 46 times in just 58 tests. At full-back is French legend Serge Blanco, which gives us the perfect excuse to include his scorching try against Australia.



Gavin Cooney
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Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.