Friday 21 July 2017

No O'Brien but Cullen urges Leinster to nail down last-eight spot

Leisnter coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Leisnter coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

The "massive" carrot of a home European Champions Cup quarter-final is within Leinster's grasp as they look to book their place in the last eight with victory over Montpellier at the RDS tonight.

Leo Cullen's men have put themselves in pole position with two games to go in Pool 4 and a win over Jake White's sizeable Top 14 side would restore their place in the elite after they missed out on the knockout stages last season.

The coach was dealt a blow yesterday as Seán O'Brien was ruled out after suffering a minor calf injury in training and his place on the openside is taken by Josh van der Flier, with Jack Conan lining out on the blindside.

Cullen has resisted the temptation to select fit-again Rob Kearney from the start, opting instead to keep faith in in-form wingers Adam Byrne and Rory O'Loughlin as Isa Nacewa starts at full-back.

Five points behind tonight's hosts, White's Montpellier have made the trip locked and loaded and the World Cup-winning coach has named his strongest team.

Dangerous

"They are very dangerous so there is enough in that to prepare our minds. In terms of how well we have prepared, we have been building towards this stage," Cullen said.

"They are such key games and it will be such a huge challenge. It's nice to be here in the RDS and it is certainly a better feeling than last year when we had gone zero for four in our pool games at this point. Good to have a few more points on the board.

"It (a home quarter-final) would be massive but this is just a step. The equation for us is pretty simple this weekend: if we win the game we are in the quarter-finals. We can worry about where that quarter-final is the week after but the equation is pretty simple for now.

"Just go out, do what we have to do to win the game. We have prepared with that in mind."

Meanwhile, Munster coach Rassie Erasmus will name his team to face Glasgow Warriors this lunchtime with Tommy O'Donnell likely to miss out with an ankle injury.

Irish Independent

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