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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 17 December, 2018

Cullen hoping to see fresh face of Leinster after tight turnaround

The eastern province were left eating pizza in Exeter on Sunday night when they would have preferred to be flying home.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Leo Cullen isn’t one for pre-match boasting, so his note that players have coped ‘reasonably well’ with the squeezed six-day turnaround is a positive proclamation.

The eastern province are riding high in their Champions Cup pool after their 8 – 18 win away to the English champions on Sunday. But after their late-night flight from Bristol was cancelled due to inclement weather, there was even less preparation time available for tomorrow’s 15.15 kick-off in the Aviva Stadium.

“Players had pizza back at the hotel,” was Cullen’s reply when asked if his squad had time to celebrate a commendable away victory, but it was instructive of a less than ideal start to the week.

“(We’re) trying to keep reasonably light, but trying to get enough work done as well. We just had a run-out at the stadium there and guys have come through reasonably well.

It’s just about making sure we focus and prepare well, it was a very long lead-in to last week’s game and on the flip-side it was short this week. Trying to strike that balance and keep the guys fresh. They’ve applied themselves well this week.”

Cullen added: “normally when you play these games away, we try to get out of there and home as quick as possible.

“With a short turnaround it’s important we turn our attentions as quick as we possibly can.

“There are many parts of the game we feel we can get better at as week. so the most important thing is how we can improve ourselves. Both in attack and defence – couple of little fix-ups from the set-piece as well.”

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

The scrum will be an area of focus for Cullen and coach John Fogarty as Tomas Francis has been named to start after two destructive entrances last weekend.

The Welsh international is one of five changes made by Rob Baxter to his Chiefs side, with the back three looking more potent for the addition of Lachie Turner and Jack Nowell.

Exeter Chiefs (v Leinster)

15. Lachlan Turner; 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ian Whitten, 11. Olly Woodburn; 10. Gareth Steenson, 9. Nic White; 1. Ben Moon, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Tom Francis, 4. Mitch Lees, 5. Sam Skinner, 6. Don Armand, 7. Matt Kvesic, 8. Sam Simmonds


16. Jack Yeandle, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Harry Williams, 19. Jonny Hill, 20. Tom Waldrom, 21. Will Chudley, 22. Sam Hill, 23. James Short

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Sean Farrell

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