Leo Cullen insists Leinster are better placed this year for double bid after ‘lull’ last season

Leo Cullen watches on during Leinster's captain's run at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Cian Tracey

Leo Cullen believes his Leinster side are better placed now than they were at this stage of last season as they look to mount their double-winning charge.

Connacht stand in Leinster’s way of a place in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final, as Cullen’s men aim to build on their five-point first-leg advantage in this evening’s (5.30) showdown at the Aviva Stadium.

More than 30,000 tickets have been sold, with Cullen able to welcome back Ireland front-row duo Andrew Porter and Rónan Kelleher. Having come up short in last year’s disrupted run to the European semi-final, when they were beaten by Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle, Cullen reckons Leinster are in better shape this time around.

“We had a bit of a lull (last season) and I wasn’t sure we ever ramped back up again,” Cullen admitted.

“This year is very different, that’s why we gave the guys a bit of space off the back of the Six Nations.

“It feels like we’re having to build back up again, and both games, Munster away and Connacht in Europe, there are lots of bits of those performances where we just feel we’ve not quite got going yet, so hopefully we’re on this positive curve. But I wouldn’t take anything for granted ever.

“We love this tournament, we want to progress as far as we can, we treat every game very, very seriously. As you can see we were very upset with how things panned out earlier in the tournament for us, but we’re here now in a knockout game and it means so much to so many people.

“So we’ve just tried to do everything we can to ensure we put in our best performance thus far this season. That’s what it’s about, just trying to deliver our best performance and we’ll see where that takes us.”