'Any time there is medication involved everyone needs to be very, very cautious'

Leinster coach Leo Cullen underlined the quality of the province’s medical team.

LEO CULLEN WAS part of many Leinster and Ireland teams alongside Brian O’Driscoll but says his experiences of using medication during his playing days are rather different.

O’Driscoll re-opened a debate around the use of painkilling and anti-inflammatory medicines in rugby on Off the Ball on Wednesday night, when he spoke about the extent of his use of the substances during the final years of his career.

Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen celebrate winning Cullen and O'Driscoll played together for Leinster and Ireland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The legendary centre revealed that part of his pre-match prep was the use of difene and co-codamol, which “almost became like habit where it gave me a fighting chance if I wasn’t feeling 100%”

Stating that “within the Leinster and Irish set-up, at that time, they were accessible,” O’Driscoll recalled that he had “been part of teams where on the way to a game, a doctor would have walked down the bus on the way to the game and enquired as to who wanted what in advance of it.”

Speaking yesterday, Cullen underlined that he wasn’t in a position to respond directly to former team-mate O’Driscoll’s comments but the Leinster head coach did share his own experiences 

“I was never a big fan, and even to this day, I’m not a big fan of taking medication,” said Cullen. “That’s not to say I haven’t taken an anti-inflammatory. Like, rugby as a game, it’s a physical contact sport. With that comes inflammation.

“What would you take to get rid of inflammation? It would be an anti-inflammatory

“There is a certain part of the professional game that has supplementation or whatever that is, in terms of different types of legal medication.

“To say there is an image of medication being handed out willy-nilly, I think that is a very unfair reflection on the environment we have here at the moment, and that’s all I’m really concerned about, the environment we have here at the moment.

“I’m not interested in dragging up things from the past. That would be my view.”

Leo Cullen Cullen stressed the quality of Leinster medical set-up. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Cullen was keen to stress his belief that Leinster’s care for their players now is of the highest standard.

Asked if he believes the use of prescribed painkillers in rugby is a problem in Ireland, Cullen replied:

“No. Any time there is medication involved everyone needs to be very, very cautious.

“Ultimately, we need to provide an environment that is very safe for the players. I think we have unbelievable medical support in this environment at the moment.

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“The care and duty of care that we, the province, provides for the players, I think, is second to none. It would really upset me if that was tarnished in any way whatsoever because I understand how much the people that care for the players actually care for them.

“That’s what we are trying to control. I can’t control what went on in the past because I was one of X amount of players over a long period of time.

“I can talk about my own experiences, I can’t talk about everyone else’s because I don’t know what their relations were with doctors, etc.”

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne preview a big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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