See what Leo Cullen had to say about the main talking points in his press conference ahead of the Guinness PRO12 match against Ospreys on Friday at the RDS Arena.
After the captain’s run on Thursday afternoon, Leo Cullen spoke to the media about Johnny Sexton’s return, the threats posed by Ospreys, and selection headaches ahead of the Friday evening’s big match.
Read what Cullen had to say about all of the main talking points below.
1. Johnny Sexton returns
“He’s trained well over the last number of weeks. He’s been fully involved in training. Some injured players come back and they’re back on the field and they’re almost straight into it, whereas he’s managed himself – non-contact for a number of weeks. He’s in a good place, training well. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action tomorrow.”
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2. The Reid/Ringrose centre partnership
“I think they give us a really good threat on the ball, both really good distributors, both smart footballers as well, that rugby intelligence. It can be hard to maybe see that in the crowd but we see it every day – two really smart footballers.”
3. The 6/2 split on the bench
“We just think with the team and the way Ospreys play it will be a very physical contest. I think Joey (Carbery) gives us good coverage there as well; he’s played a number of positions. Some of the backs that we have give us that level of flexibility as well. That was the thinking behind the decision.”
4. Mike McCarthy out, Mick Kearney in
“We just wanted to freshen Mike up a little bit and we want to get Mick Kearney up to speed. It can be difficult for forwards to try and get games up and running. Mick’s missed a bit. He’s played for Clontarf, he played 40 minutes against UCD at the weekend. Mike is just about freshening him up. He’d come back in after a long absence and played a number of games. We’re just trying to keep some of the older guys a little bit fresher, take care of them.”
5. Ospreys’ threats
“They’re very physical, the Ospreys. They’re a team that we have a lot of respect for because we’ve had some really good tussles with them over the years. They’ve got a lot of international experience coming in. They’ve come out of the traps very quickly this year, they’ve got maximum points. We know over the years the threats that they pose: some smart footballers, really good half-backs with international experience. They’re very strong in the contact areas. It’s important that we are smart in the way we play because they’re a team that will put you under a lot of pressure.”
6. Young players stepping up
“It’s creating some headaches, which is positive – keeps me awake at night, which is good. But it’s in a positive way. Guys are really pushing hard. They’re showing a real desire to want to play in the team. It’s getting really competitive, which is pleasing for us as coaches.”
7. Fortress RDS
“It’s really important for us that we have the RDS as a strong place. We were undefeated here in the league last year and we know it’s going to be a huge challenge against the Ospreys. It’s important that the players are giving a good account of themselves, that they’re giving something for the support to get behind. We really appreciate the support that we get, the number of Season Ticket holders that we have and the people that turn out to the game. It’s a really big game against the team that are sitting top of league, undefeated, with maximum points. We need every little advantage we can get.”
8. Guinness PRO12 getting more competitive
“I think everyone knows what’s at stake now. Ospreys missed out on qualification for [the Champions Cup last season], so there’s a big knock-on consequence if that happens. It certainly focuses the mind. We’ve missed out before on the top four and you can see the knock-on effects of that. All the teams are gearing up. Every game there’s something on the line. It’s important that we’re scrapping away for every single point in every game. But definitely, the competition is getting stronger and stronger all the time.”
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