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."

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Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
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Sunday , October 19
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
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Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
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Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
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2Harlequins14
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1Ospreys15
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