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Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Cullen looking forward to reunion with Girvan Dempsey and Bath

The Leinster coach will have familiar rivals throughout the pool.
Jun 20th 2018, 6:38 PM 6,116 2

HAVING SPENT HIS entire career as both player and coach with Leinster, Girvan Dempsey will face his native province as a rival when Bath take on the holders in the Champions Cup next season.

The former international fullback was appointed attack coach with the Premiership club in the days following Leinster’s Bilbao success and today’s pool draw has left Leo Cullen hoping his long-term colleague won’t be able to upset the odds when the teams meet in pool action.

“Anyone that has been part of the team here, when they move somewhere else you always wish them the very best, but you hope they don’t come back to haunt you on some of the days,” says the head coach, who also noted his previous dealing with Todd Blackadder when Cullen travelled to New Zealand to hone his coaching skills.

“It will be great catching up with those guys. Bath have a very strong coaching group. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Todd Blackadder when he was coaching the Canterbury Crusaders. They’re a really good bunch of people over there so it will be a great challenge for us.”

Leinster Celebrate DIGITAL Girvan Dempsey, Leo Cullen, Reggie Corrigan and Denis Hickie celebrate a European win in 2002. Source: INPHO

In a pool packed with previous champions, Cullen flagged Wasps as the main danger with the Kiwi influence entering Dai Young’s side too.

“They’ve made some good signings during the summer, Lima Sopoaga in particular, Brad Shields as well – I’m sure people have seen him with England over the last couple of weeks. They’re a very, very strong squad. They have a good bit of inside knowledge with Jimmy Gopperth.”

As for Toulouse, Leinster’s fellow four-time European champions, the head coach is expecting an ‘exciting encounter’ against the side who finished third in the Top14 this season and have added Jerome Kaino, Maxime Mermoz and Pita Ahki to their ranks.

“You know with all the French teams they’re unbelievably heavily resourced. They have an unbelievably strong squad. They’re one of the great teams. We tried to follow their example for many years. It will be an exciting encounter against them as well.”

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Sean Farrell

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