Planet Rugby

December reflection from Cullen

03rd December 2013 06:35

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leo cullen leinster

Wary: Leo Cullen

Leinster captain Leo Cullen is eager to banish last year's December struggles against Clermont ahead of facing Northampton Saints.

The three-time champions' hopes of a third title in succession were shattered this time last year after they came out of their back-to-back matches against Clermont with two losses.

Without key stars due to injury this time 12 months ago including Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney, Cullen concedes that the squad are in much better shape one year on before facing last season's Aviva Premiership finalists.

"This is the part of the season when we came unstuck last year, if you look back on those two Clermont games. It leaves a long [bitter] taste in the mouth if you don't get these things right,' Cullen told the Daily Mail.

"Going back over a number of years, Leinster were very guilty of crumbling around January time. You had a lot of poor results at the tail end of the Heineken Cup [pool].

"These back-to-back games, especially for ourselves and Northampton, could be crucial for deciding who comes out of this group.

"We've kind of finished those November internationals in a better place, we were pretty bashed up this time last year.

"You need a bit of luck but everyone's been working very hard to try and get ourselves in the best possible shape. We just need to get out there and perform against a very good team."

Cautious of the physical threat posed by the likes of Samu Manoa and Courtney Lawes for Northampton, Cullen expects a draining clash ahead over the next fortnight.

"Samu Manoa is very abrasive, a very strong ball-carrier, very strong [in] defence. They've got plenty of quality," added Cullen.

"Northampton, when they play at Franklin's Gardens, they'll want to take us on physically. Courtney Lawes is a huge part of that because of the physically imposing guy that he is."

  • Rugby Champions Cup Fixtures
  • Rugby Champions Cup Table
Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Leinster622
2Northampton617
3Castres69
4Ospreys65
Pool 2
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulon624
2Cardiff Blues614
3Exeter612
4Glasgow Warriors611
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulouse623
2Saracens620
3Connacht613
4Zebre60
Pool 4
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Clermont Auvergne624
2Harlequins616
3Scarlets611
4Racing Metro Paris67
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Ulster626
2Leicester Tigers621
3Montpellier611
4Treviso60
Pool 6
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Munster623
2Gloucester614
3Edinburgh612
4Perpignan67