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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 17 January 2021

'We want good behaviours with referees, because we're trying to play within the rules'

Leo Cullen says Leinster are always trying to tighten their discipline.

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Leo Cullen says it is important for his side to understand the rules of the game and produce ‘good pictures’ to referees when it comes to their discipline. 

The standard of refereeing in the Guinness Pro14 was called into question by Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill last week, as the Englishman levelled accusations of cheating at Connacht for persistent infringements.

Leo Cullen Leo Cullen speaking at today's pre-match press conference. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Speaking ahead of Edinburgh’s visit to the RDS on Saturday evening [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport/Premier Sports], Cullen said Leinster are always looking for ways to tighten their discipline in all aspects of the game. 

“Yeah that’s the way we’d always be anyway,” he said. “We need to figure out and understand the certain traits of different referees and be able to adapt to those styles on any given day.

“We want to present good pictures and make sure we have good behaviours to the referees, because you might get away with a couple of trends. We get different send outs from the referee manager [Pro14 head of referees Craig Garner] every week and these are the things referees are being told to focus on this week and that goes on throughout the course of the season.

“We need to understand what those images are and some teams have got pointed out for them over the past couple of weeks — ‘these teams have portrayed these behaviours’ — and we don’t want to be one of those teams.

“We want to make sure we understand the rules of the games are and we’re able to go out and deliver on those. It’s an important part of the game.

“Some teams I think get away with it [certain infringements] for a couple of weeks but they’ll come unstuck eventually because the referees will see what they’re doing. We’re trying to play the game within the rules of the game.”

Welshman Dan Jones is the man in the middle at the RDS on Saturday evening, and no doubt the spotlight will be on the official’s decisions in the wake of Cockerill’s comments.  

The Edinburgh head coach has made nine changes in personnel from last week’s win over Connacht, leaving Scottish internationals Blair Kinghorn, Henry Pyrgos, Grant Gilchrist, Hamish Watson, Matt Scott, WP Nel and Stuart McInally at home for the round four clash in Dublin.

Instead, Cockerill has bolstered his tight five further and Cullen is under no illusions of what his former Leicester head coach will look to do against the Pro14 and European champions.

“He did something very similar last year and we looked at some of the clips, and we were very lucky I think to come away with a win,” Cullen continued.

“They have a strong squad Edinburgh, I think that’s the first thing to note. They’ve picked a very big front five so it gives you a fair idea of what they intend to do there. The back row they have is very aggressive and they’ve a lot of good footballers and pace.

James Lowe James Lowe comes back into the Leinster team. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“They’re strong, there’s not much between the players they have and I think it’s something he’ll try and do as well, create that competition and make sure nobody feels safe. That’s something I’d imagine Richard is a big fan of.”

Cullen himself has made a number of changes from last week’s bonus-point win over Dragons, as the eastern province continue to shuffle their deck ahead of the inter-pro double-header and the start of the Champions Cup pool stages.

Kiwi winger James Lowe comes back into the team having sat out last Saturday while Dan Leavy is in line for his first appearance of the season off the bench having recovered from a shoulder injury. 

“It’s another opportunity for guys to showcase what they can do,” Cullen added. “I thought we had a great crowd against the Dragons, so hopefully we will see more of the same on Saturday.

“The players know what is at stake with this run of games that we are on. We have Connacht away next week, Munster the week after at the Aviva and then we are into Europe.

“Players know that based on the next few weeks, it will have a knock-on effect what takes place in November with Ireland. There is so much at stake in these games.

“Players need to understand they need to perform well in these games if they are to be in the frame for the upcoming games.” 

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Ryan Bailey

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