Tuesday 27 June 2017

Cullen braced for 'tricky' Bath

Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen is hoping to take a leaf from Ireland's play book and nullify the powerful threat that Bath carry in their forward pack (SPORTSFILE)
Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen is hoping to take a leaf from Ireland's play book and nullify the powerful threat that Bath carry in their forward pack (SPORTSFILE)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen is hoping to take a leaf from Ireland's play book and nullify the powerful threat that Bath carry in their forward pack.

Joe Schmidt brilliantly masterminded Ireland's Six Nations win over England, and Cullen believes that the Premiership side will look to play in a similar way as their national side when the two teams meet in tomorrow's Champions Cup quarter-final.

Leinster have the luxury of being able to call upon several of the Irish players who starred in the win, but Cullen is wary of Bath's power game.

"They have very dangerous backs, obviously the same 10 and 13 (as England, in George Ford and Jonathan Joseph) and (second-row) Dave Attwood as well," Cullen pointed out.

"They have very strong forward power if you see the way they have played this year. Their scrum has probably been one of the most dominant scrums in Europe.

"They play that power game, try and get go-forward and then they use the dangerous runners they have behind. They've got a lot of threats across the board.

"They are tricky to defend against because they like to take defenders on one-on-one. That's probably where they differ to a lot of teams. They have players with really, really good footwork."

As a former international second-row, Cullen is full of admiration for the progress that Bath lock Attwood has made in the last couple of seasons.

The 27-year-old has 20 caps to his name and impressed in England's Six Nations campaign, and Cullen is expecting him to replicate that kind of form tomorrow afternoon.

"During November, I thought he was very good as well," he said.

"He is a very big man and he's good in the tight - does a lot of unseen work. He is very strong.

"He actually has a turn of pace as well when he's in some of those wider channels, particularly if I look back at some of those games in November.

"He has been there, played plenty of games and has a lot of Premiership experience.

"He's a very competent player and he was running the line-out for England, as well, whereas he doesn't normally do that job at Bath.

"They are a pretty handy outfit. We'll have to be on our mettle. We'll have to get parity, at least, to try and get some decent platform for our back-line."

Leinster haven't always impressed at the Aviva Stadium and Cullen is mindful that his side must give the supporters something to shout about, if they are to make home advantage count.

"To have a quarter-final at home we hope the supporters come out in great voice because we hope it is going to be a great occasion," he said.

"We need a huge performance because at the moment every game is the biggest game for us.

"I really hope the supporters get behind the team like they have. They make these occasions.

"We have been lucky over the last number of years, we've had some really good days and they are made spectacular by the supporters turning out, and that is what the team needs to deliver."

Irish Independent

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