Saturday 22 July 2017

Leo Cullen's Leinster have their sights on a €1million Champions Cup windfall

Jamie Heaslip of Leinster on their arrival in Toulouse Airport
Jamie Heaslip of Leinster on their arrival in Toulouse Airport
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster touched down in Toulouse last night with a lucrative Dublin quarter-final in their sights.

Victory over Castres at Stade Pierre Antoine tonight would secure a home last-eight spot for Leo Cullen’s men when they return to the knockout stages after a year in the doldrums.

The province played their last quarter-final against Bath in 2015 at the Aviva Stadium which can generate around €1m on match-day. Leinster have already secured their place in the quarter-finals, but they can now take full advantage by qualifying as top seeds with a bonus-point win or by simply guaranteeing a home last-eight tie with a win.

And Ireland prop Cian Healy (right) is determined that his side can produce the goods against the Top 14 side whose own hopes of prolonging their involvement in the tournament hang by a thread. “It’s about doing ourselves justice here,” the loosehead, who has been recalled to the starting XV, said.

“We’ve done well and we’ve played quite well bar a couple of games that didn’t go to plan, but to be able to come out of this section of games pretty happy with what we’ve done, we’d take a win in this game and having a good defensive effort and putting together some of our plays pretty well.

“Not to just scrape a win, (but) to win the way we want to, to win playing the rugby we want to and put together that sort of game.

“It (a home quarter-final) would be great but it’s also rewarding to the support we’ve been given so far. The RDS has been insane, especially last week. That was an incredible atmosphere. To be able to give them another big day out like that in Dublin would also be in our minds.”

Cullen has also brought Richardt Strauss in for James Tracy as Ross Molony replaces the suspended Hayden Triggs. Seán O’Brien again misses out as a result of his troublesome calf, but the head coach assuaged fears that the flanker’s Six Nations is in jeopardy.

“I would imagine he would be fine for the start of the Six Nations. He was not a million miles off for this week,” Cullen said.

Castres have made nine changes to the team that lost to Northampton Saints last weekend, but have only lost once at home this season.

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