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Leo Cullen tipped to be Leinster's new head coach


Leo Cullen

Leo Cullen

Leo Cullen

Mike ROSS has put the weight of his hefty shoulders in behind Leo Cullen as Leinster's interim head coach.

This comes with the caveat that the former captain has been placed in the role before he has rightly earned it.

Afterall, Cullen has just one year's experience as a forwards coach on his curriculum vitae, compared to the perceived three-year minimum required.

"I think he's adapted reasonably well. He's doing it sooner than he would have liked," said Ross.

"At the same time, we back him 100 per cent to deliver.

"He's got to focus on raising standards all across the board and making sure we're going back to what was required to win the Champions Cup and win the Guinness PRO12."

That is a tall order for a tall man.

Cullen has been thrown right in at the deep end in a sink or swim scenario that could have been avoided had the Professional Games Board simply allowed Matt O'Connor to finish out his three years.

Of course, this is all far outside the control of the players. They simply have to do all they can to enable a rookie coach to carry out his duties as well as possible.

Veteran tight-head Ross finds comfort, even trust, from the presence and influence Cullen once wielded as a three-time Heineken Cup winning captain.

"He's a very natural leader and a very, very smart player," he said.

"He's also a tremendously annoying player, if you weren't playing with him.


"I can remember the Heineken Cup final against Ulster where Leo somehow managed to get up on the wrong side of a ruck with the ball and run off up the pitch.

"There's an invisibility cloak on him sometimes. He's a great guy to play with and led our lineout superbly and is an all round decent guy as well."

Cullen will know there is nowhere more visible than the hot eat he has been landed into.