Planet Rugby

December reflection from Cullen

03rd December 2013 06:35


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."

  • Champions Cup Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
Saturday , December 6
Sale vs Saracens13:00
Munster vs Clermont Auvergne17:30
Ulster vs Scarlets19:45
Benetton Treviso vs Northampton13:00
Ospreys vs Racing Metro 9215:15
Sunday , December 7
Castres vs Wasps13:00
Harlequins vs Leinster15:15
Leicester vs Toulon17:30
Toulouse vs Glasgow15:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
  • Champions Cup Results
Recent Results
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale Sharks
Castres 16 - 21 Leinster
Wasps 16 - 23 Harlequins
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Saturday , October 25
Bath 19 - 21 Toulouse
Montpellier 13 - 15 Glasgow
Ulster 13 - 23 Toulon
Northampton 34 - 6 Ospreys
Scarlets 15 - 3 Leicester
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 Saracens
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
  • Champions Cup Table
Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
2Clermont Auvergne26
4Sale Sharks21
Pool 2
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
3Leicester Tigers24
Pool 4
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
1Glasgow Warriors29
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
1Racing Metro Paris28