Fresh from Saturday’s Heineken Cup triumph in Edinburgh, Leinster captain Leo Cullen has vowed to try and make his side as successful as beaten finalists Leicester Tigers, the two-time European champions and current holders of the Guinness Premiership title.
Leo Cullen led Leinster to a 16-9 victory in the Scottish capital as Leinster claimed their first European crown since the tournament’s inception back in 1996 but the 31-year-old immediately set his sights on continued success.
Whereas Leinster were appearing in their first Heineken Cup final, Leicester were competing in their fifth European showpiece just a week after taking part in their fifth successive Guinness Premiership final.
Having spent two years in England’s east midlands with the Tigers between 2005 and 2007, Cullen knows better than most the weight of expectation at Welford Road and the need to perform at the highest level on an annual basis.
Now the Ireland lock is determined that Leinster will emulate Saturday’s opponents and become a regular fixture in the higher echelons of the European game.
“Hopefully this will be a stepping stone for us to go on and be successful for many years to come,” said Cullen after Leinster overturned a 16-9 deficit to finish the season as European champions.
“We’ve got a lot of young players in our squad and they want to have that level of consistency to perform continually.
“Leicester are a team that have that and have had that for a long number of years. That’s what we’ll be striving for.”
Cullen also paid credit to head coach Michael Cheika after the Australian marked his fourth season in charge with the ultimate triumph.
Cheika joined Leinster from Randwick in 2005 and Cullen insists that he has been instrumental in reviving the province’s fortunes.
“When I went to England four years ago, Leinster were in a period of disarray.
“When ‘Cheiks’ came in, he instilled a real work ethic and that’s slowly built over the last few years, so a huge amount of credit has to go to him.
“It’s been a long time coming. Going back seven, eight, nine years ago when some of us were coming through as the younger players, there was a certain amount of expectation.
“We had a pretty talented bunch of players but we never really delivered on our promise.
“The whole organisation is at a different level to what it was before he came in.
“A huge amount of credit has to go to the guy because the support has grown, the level of performance has grown and the organisation has grown.”