Cullen: “Support in the RDS is so important”
April 14, 2016 12:00 am client
With just three games to go in the GUINNESS PRO12 regular season, and teams fighting for home semi-finals, playoff spots and Champions Cup qualification, every point matters over these final weekends.
Leinster face Edinburgh in the RDS Arena on Friday night knowing a win could keep the province top of the GUINNESS PRO12 table with just two more rounds to go.
Connacht, in second and level on points with Leinster, face Munster at The Sportsground this weekend, while Glasgow Warriors, who have won their last seven games in a row and now sit in third spot two points behind the two provinces, will travel to face fourth-place Scarlets.
After this weekend’s games the playoff picture should be clearer, and Leo Cullen is counting on Leinster’s RDS support to drive the team into a home semi-final.
“Our last day against Munster we had over 40,000 people at the game,” Cullen said, ahead of the Edinburgh match.
“Hopefully we will have a big crowd again at the RDS. That support that we get is so important.
“I think that relationship with the support that we had that day (against Munster), hopefully we’ll continue to get that same level of support throughout the rest of the season.”
Each of Leinster’s final three games will be crucial in determining the province’s final league position, with every member of the squad vying for a place in the starting XV over the final weeks of the season.
“We have a squad that is very competitive now and it certainly makes picking the team very difficult. It’s a great luxury for us to have. It’s going to be tough on a lot of guys over the next couple of weeks because everyone wants to play in these big games. We’ve only three PRO12 games and what we hope is a semi-final after that. We’ve plenty to play for; the individuals have lots at stake, and collectively as a group we have plenty at stake as well. We all want to finish the season well. We’ve got ourselves in a good position but we want to push on now and try and finish out as well as we possibly can.”
Returning to help the push for a GUINNESS PRO12 semi-final spot will be Rob Kearney who hasn’t featured for Leinster since January due to international commitments and injury.
“Rob has been struggling for a couple of weeks, so it’s good we managed him back, probably very conservatively. He’s trained well, we’re looking forward to seeing him playing.”
Cullen also spoke about managing the fitness of other international players as the season moves into a crucial stage.
“I think we’re just trying to manage the squad as best as we possibly can. The reality is Johnny (Sexton) has been carrying a couple of niggles over the last couple of weeks. We’re trying to manage him as best as possible. Jamie (Heaslip) has had a very heavy workload this season. We still think we’ve got guys coming in there that can come in and acquit themselves well. We want to have that competitive environment. There were some tough calls.
“We hope we’ve got a group of players that are going to represent the team and the group as well as possible. It’s a tough challenge. But it’s great to be back in the RDS – it’s been a while.”
Get behind the push for the GUINNESS PRO12 playoffs! Tickets for Leinster v Edinburgh are on sale now from €;20.