With international players returning to Leinster HQ this week after helping Ireland to retain the 6 Nations title, Leo Cullen looks ahead to a crucial run of games against Glasgow Warriors in the RDS Arena and the Champions Cup Quarter-Final against Bath in the Aviva Stadium.

With international players returning today (Tuesday) after the weekend’s celebrations, head coach Matt O’Connor will have a better idea of who is ready to play a part in the Guinness PRO12 match against Glasgow in the RDS this Friday (KO 7.35pm). 

Speaking to the media on Monday afternoon, Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen said they will be looking to players that featured from the bench or those that weren’t regular starters for Ireland’s 6 Nations games to be included in the squad to face Glasgow.

“There’s a couple of players that won’t be in the reckoning that played a bit more,” the former Leinster captain said.

“It’s more looking at some of the guys that have been involved on the bench and have played a little bit less. Hopefully we do get a few guys back, but we’ve guys here that can do a pretty good job as well.”

The players that won’t feature against Glasgow are fighting fit, says Cullen, and with only a few days left until the Champions Cup Quarter-Final they’re focus will be on preparing for the big game in the Aviva on 4th April. 

“Some guys will be involved on Friday, then other guys won’t be. They’ll be targeting the following week (against Bath). The reports so far, generally, I think most of the bodies have come through (the 6 Nations) ok. I don’t think there was anything too bad; a couple of bangs and bruises as usual. We’ll just get those assessed but I suppose by the end of tomorrow we’ll have a pretty good idea of what we’re going into Friday with.”

“As the week goes on, it’s trying to reintegrate those Irish guys that won’t be involved this week so they can get a head start late in the week on what is a very big quarter-final the following week.”

leinster v bath

The quarter-final may be just around the corner, but for now the focus is very much on Glasgow. 

The Scottish side currently top the Guinness PRO12 table on 57 points, with Leinster in fifth on 49 points. 

“Bath is a completely different challenge the week after. But for now we’re just focusing on Glasgow again. It’s a very important game for us. We’re just outside that top four at the moment. Glasgow are sitting top of the table. 

“I think it’s great playing against a top team (before the Champions Cup Quarter-Final). Glasgow maybe is in a similar situation to ourselves because they would’ve had to have managed their bodies coming out of Scotland camp as well. I know Glasgow do have a very big squad but it’s very hard to say exactly what they’re team is going to be. I’m not too sure exactly what the protocol is for their players getting released back from Scotland camp. They’ve got a lot of quality in their squad and it’s going to be a very big challenge for the lads that we send out.”

All five games in the PRO12 between now and the end of the season will be like cup finals, with places in the top four on the line. On top of that there’s a home quarter-final in Europe to prepare for.

Cullen says he embraces what is an “exciting challenge” for Leinster as this marathon of a season reaches its sprint finish.  

“The next two weeks obviously are huge. Any quarter-final of Europe is going to be massive. And to have a team of the quality of Glasgow coming in here – where again it’s going to be a short turnaround, but as I mentioned it’s a similar sort of situation for them – it’s really good preparation into a massive quarter-final in the Aviva. We all get very excited about those challenges. It’s great playing a quarter-final in front of your home crowd and hopefully we’ll have huge support on the day and it’ll be a great occasion.”

Leinster face Glasgow Warriors in the RDS Arena this Friday, 27th March (KO 7.35pm). Tickets are available here. 

Over 37,000 tickets have been sold for Leinster’s European Champions Cup tie with Bath at Aviva Stadium. Click here for tickets.