Sport Guinness Pro12

Friday 29 August 2014

No room for sentiment in Leinster dressing room as Cullen and Drico retire

Ruaidhri O’Connor

Published 30/05/2014 | 17:58

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Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor and captain Leo Cullen during a press conference ahead of their Celtic League Grand Final match against Glasgow Warriors tomorrow. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor and captain Leo Cullen during a press conference ahead of their Celtic League Grand Final match against Glasgow Warriors tomorrow. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Leinster captain Leo Cullen and Glasgow Warriors captain Alastair Kellock during a photocall in Dublin ahead of their Celtic League Grand Final match tomorrow. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Leinster captain Leo Cullen and Glasgow Warriors captain Alastair Kellock during a photocall in Dublin ahead of their Celtic League Grand Final match tomorrow. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

RETIRING Leinster captain Leo Cullen is keen to keep the focus of tomorrow’s RaboDirect Pro12 final on the match himself rather than his and Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement.

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The 36-year-old second row will make his final appearance for the province if used off the bench against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS.

However, he says the Leinster dressing room is not a sentimental place and the time for reflection will come after the season finale.

Leinster are looking to go back to back in the Pro12 for the first time to keep their incredible recent record of averaging a trophy a season since 2008 going.

“It’s business as normal for everybody, I don’t think we’re that sentimental a bunch, every now and again maybe,” Cullen said.

“Brian had a great send-off in Paris with Ireland, winning the Six Nations was such a fitting end to his international career. All the fellahs are in real good form and trained well this week and will be keen to give him a good send-off.

“When you come to finals, it is about trying to get the performance right on the day and we’ll be looking to play our best game of the year, that’s what we do at this time of year.

“We know we’re up against a very, very good team in Glasgow - a very well coached team as well. It’s a team we have had a lot of close battles with as well.

“We know it’s going to be a big, big task, I remember back to the launch Glasgow were the team I picked as the biggest threat, having played them in the semi-final last year I remember how good they were.

“We’ll focus on performance and the processes we need to get right and we can celebrate then. All week everyone has been very focused, we had a weekend off between now and the semi-final, it’s a long build up so hopefully the guys are pretty well prepared.”

Coach Matt O’Connor has opted to select Jimmy Gopperth ahead of Ian Madigan and said the New Zealander’s recent performances in the No10 jersey gave him the edge.

“He’s been in that slot in the last couple of weeks so there’s a bit of continuity that goes with that,” he said. “The versatility of Ian is a great strength of the group which we saw against Ulster. To have the flexibility to stick Ian on the field to give us whatever is required at that stage is a big boost for us.”

And O’Connor agreed with Cullen that there is little room for emotion despite the departure of two Leinster legends tomorrow.

“Everyone understands the stakes involved,” the Australian said. “Thankfully, the club has been to a lot of finals, they understand the mentality of it, what’s required and keep as normal as possible and, to that end, we’ve been trying to keep it as normal as possible, looking at the processes and the things that make us look good and if we can deliver on those things then the group’s pretty confident that we can be there or there abouts at the end of the 80 minutes.

“At the very, very top end when the margins are so small you can’t afford to be sentimental. It’s not an issue, it’s about 23 blokes delivering what we can deliver for 80 minutes, beyond that we’ll get what we deserve and take what comes after that."

Meanwhile, Leinster has compiled a video showing some of the most amazing moments of of Brian O'Driscoll's career in a blue shirt.

The four-minute clip begins in the early days of Drico's career with the club when his hair was still full of highlights but his speed and power on the pitch were a match for anyone.

From his blazing turn of pace to his deft passing, quick feet and eye for an opening, it's all here as BOD goes from freshfaced newcomer to Heineken Cup winner.

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