LEO CULLEN STARTED by raising an eyebrow to a quote from Brian O’Driscoll. Minutes later, Sean Cronin found himself comparing his current employers to Connacht.
This is a very different build-up than Leinster are accustomed to for a crunch European fixture.
“Not many people are giving us much of a shot by the sounds of it,” says Cullen, enduring a testing time in his first year as forwards coach.
“But I’ve been in this situation before where people write you off. We’ll go out and prepare, we go in with a clear plan into the game and the lads are in really good spirits, despite losing at the weekend, and excited by the prospect of going over to Marseille.”
The former captain’s furrowed brow came thanks to O’Driscoll’s assertion on Newstalk that the game ought to be viewed as “a freebie“; a no-lose situation, a time to go out swinging for better or worse.
“I’m hoping it will be pretty because that’s the way traditionally Leinster will always want to play,” Cullen added.
“As a former second row forward, I’d be happy to see us kick six penalties and win the game. We’ll go out with the intention of playing as we do every week, but sometimes it doesn’t always pan out like we prep. So we’ll see. We have full faith in the game managers, that they can make the adjustments on the day.”
A key component of Cullen’s plan for set-piece solidity and gainline advantages, Cronin brought up his Connacht days to illustrate the exemplary professionalism in Toulon’s ranks – when they visited Galway in 2010. With the West awakened in the conversation, the hooker was soon asked to ponder the underdog qualities of Leinster compared to his former employers across the Shannon.
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“It is unusual here in Leinster to be so much the underdog going in to a match. It’s not the usual scenario. At the Bath game, people were giving us a 50-50 flip of a coin. We’ve moved into that territory suddenly.