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Cullen: The Players Would Love Another Crack At It

Cullen: The Players Would Love Another Crack At It

Head coach Leo Cullen has given an injury update as the Leinster squad started their preparations ahead of next Friday’s visit of Glasgow Warriors to the RDS in the penultimate round of the GUINNESS PRO12.

From the Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Clermont Auvergne yesterday, only Robbie Henshaw is an injury concern having picked up a knock to his ribs late in the game. He will be assessed as the week progresses.

“It was a fair old shoulder into the ribs from what I would have described as a charge into a ruck. No, it’s not too bad,” admitted Leo Cullen, who also issued a further update on Sean O’Brien who missed the trip to France with a tight hamstring.

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“Sean’s other hamstring flared up. With his history, it’s important that we try and take care of him. He’s back running, but it’s unlikely he’ll be involved this weekend.”

The luckless Dave Kearney underwent surgery last week on his ankle and will be out for up to six weeks, while prop Ed Byrne picked up a hamstring injury last week that will keep him sidelined for a few weeks.

Reflecting on the province’s European exit, Cullen admitted: “Definitely from our end as coaches maybe we could have done things differently. I think we got a lot of things right. We just didn’t manage certain situations well during the game (against Clermont) but it’s very hard to throw people into that.

“It’s very hard to throw people into that atmosphere of 41,000 people. It’s hard to replicate that on the training field – the pressure, the tension, the anxiety that comes with that. There were little errors in our game. A lot of the time it is because they want it so badly they’re trying so hard, it forces the errors.

“When we were behind, it was almost like, ‘we’re relaxed now so we know what we have to do – we’ll chase the game’. At the start of the game, sometimes, it can be the hardest. You get that anxiety that builds up and players make uncharacteristic errors because they are forcing things so hard. It was that little bit of composure that we needed.

“I knew it would be tight against Clermont. Them and Sarries have shown they’re the best two teams in Europe over the last couple of seasons and against those teams, particularly away from home, you need to get a lot right and we probably didn’t get enough right.

“The players would love another crack at it. Unfortunately you don’t get that chance, and it’s a bloody long way until you get into another European semi-final again. Hopefully it’s only a year.”