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Leinster up-and-comers 'need to understand this is their window'

A bonus point win away from home did not mean Leo Cullen was happy after Leinster’s first game of the season.

Caelan Doris during a soaked Leinster training session yesterday.
Caelan Doris during a soaked Leinster training session yesterday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ON PAPER, LEINSTER enjoyed a perfect opening to their Pro14 defence, but Leo Cullen wasn’t wholly satisfied by the bonus-point win away to Benetton.

Iliesa Ratuva’s 49th minute red card meant Leinster faced 14 men for the final half hour in Treviso, but it took Dave Kearney’s completed hat-trick and Harry Byrne’s late straightforward penalty to rubber stamp a helter-skelter tussle 27-32.

Cullen’s squad spent the morning of the match watching Ireland’s travails in Japan and when he arrived for media duty yesterday the World Cup again took up the lion’s share of the conversation.

“It’s not at the front of our minds. At the moment, we have enough to worry about,” Cullen said as Leinster announced an extension to their sponsorship deal with Beauchamps.

“We’re pulling apart our own performance against Treviso with a strong belief that we were far from our best. We’re trying to figure out why that is. We have enough on our plate trying to get ready for Ospreys on Friday night.

“Treviso had a red card in the game which you would think we would be able to establish some dominance in the game at that point. But, we don’t really. It (ends up being) this tit-for-tat game.”

Will Connors and Caelan Doris started in the back row, Ronan Kelleher in the front and Cullen called on replacements in the shape of Vakh Abdaladze, Josh Murphy and Michael Milne. So those more forgiving of inaccuracies in Leinster’s game than the head coach might suggest inexperience as a valid excuse. Cullen is intent on underlining the message to his team that he is not waiting around on the players who are in Japan and unavailable. The time to impress is now.

“All our guys need to understand this is their window. They need to own the jersey they’re wearing at the weekend and make sure they’re not giving it back to somebody else.”

“There should be urgency from our players. We were a bit disappointed at the weekend because we had a great window as a group to go away and represent.”

leo-cullen Leo Cullen and Adam Byrne at training. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In a seriously tough Conference A with Ulster and Glasgow Warriors, instilling that urgency Cullen is after will help the eastern province up in a strong position while everyone remains without their World Cup contingent.

Once the big show in Japan is over, whenever that happens for Ireland, Cullen’s kids are being pushed to show an intent to hold on to their position and not just stand aside for the internationals to step back into blue in time for November European fixtures.

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“It’s about maximizing what we can from these three games. because our players should realise that if things don’t go well at the World Cup, the players will be coming back and they’ll want to play and they’ll all want to play as soon as possible.

“Because, if you have a disappointing day, you want to get back out there and play. So I’m sure if our guys have a disappointing World Cup they’ll want to get back and play games.

“The guys that are here, the window gets tighter and tighter. Our players should be under no illusions, this is a big window of opportunity for them. It’s what they make of it.”

Eoin Toolan joins Murray Kinsella in Japan to review Ireland’s shock defeat to the hosts at the Rugby World Cup.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Sean Farrell

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