Saturday 1 October 2016

Leo Cullen claims Irish player exodus is 'cyclical' as Marty Moore finalises Wasps move

Published 16/01/2016 | 02:30

Leinster coach Leo Cullen during a press conference (SPORTSFILE)
Leinster coach Leo Cullen during a press conference (SPORTSFILE)

Leinster are still desperately clinging to some hope that prop Marty Moore may reconsider his decision to reject a new two-year deal, despite sources close to Wasps confirming that he has already signed a three-year contract with the English outfit.

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"We don't comment usually on the speculation," said head coach Leo Cullen, who is unhappy that the negotiations have emerged in the public domain.

"We are working away behind the scenes with a whole host of players who are off contract.

"We have agreed with certain players that it wouldn't become public knowledge. That's just the way we do the business."

Cullen, who selected a side featuring six players making their first European starts for today's RDS dead rubber against Bath, believes the current player exodus is merely cyclical.

"There is a cyclical nature to it in these World Cup years. We will probably have less players next year anyway.

"You see six guys making their first starts in Europe, you can't accelerate that process to get them to 50 games."

Cullen revealed that Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Jamie Heaslip remain on course to be fit for the Six Nations, which kicks off against Wales on February 7.

Munster are also out of Europe but in stark contrast they can only make one unforced change to their squad as they welcome Stade Francais to Thomond Park.

In what has already been a traumatic week for the southern province, they will wear their alternative jersey despite the fact they are the home team.

Munster mistakenly failed to pack their black kit for last weekend's trip to Paris, forcing Stade to wear their own white and pink alternative jersey to avoid a colour clash.

Simon Zebo, who is another player to whom a desperate final plea has been made as he ponders a move away from Ireland, is an interesting selection at full-back as he aims to impress Joe Schmidt before the imminent Six Nations squad announcement.

Ulster are the only Irish team who can still qualify for the knockout stages but they will need to secure at least a point from their trip to Saracens.

Jared Payne makes his return at full-back after a foot injury prematurely ended his World Cup campaign and both he and Zebo will be contenders for the Ireland No 15 jersey should Rob Kearney's hamstring trouble flare up.

Connacht also need at least a point from their trip to Brive in their Challenge Cup quarter-final quest.

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