Thursday 19 July 2018

'There are no egos' - Brian O'Driscoll on why Cullen and Lancaster are Leinster's coaching dream team

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, left, and senior coach Stuart Lancaster
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, left, and senior coach Stuart Lancaster
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Brian O’Driscoll believes Leinster will be crowned as European champions in Bilabo so long as they stave off an early barrage from Racing 92.

Speaking to Independent.ie, BT Sport pundit O’Driscoll has backed Leo Cullen’s men to continue a glorious year for Irish rugby by lifting the Champions Cup, but he admits the opening exchanges of the final will be crucial in deciding the outcome.

“The first 20 minutes of this game will be crucial and if Leinster can negate that Racing firepower in the opening exchanges, I think they will have too much in their armoury over the course of 80 minutes,” declares O’Driscoll, who won three Heineken Cups during his time in Leinster colours.

“Racing are the underdogs and they will go into this game concerned about the power and variety Leinster bring to the table, but they will believe they have a chance if they can start really well, build up a lead and hope they have enough to hold on in the closing stages.

“From a Leinster perspective, it feels like they are in the driving seat going into this game and on the basis of their eight performances in this year’s Champions Cup, you have to be confident that they will push over the finishing line in the final game.

“To win six out of six in a pool of that calibre and to get so many bonus points as well. A big win in Glasgow, beating Exeter at Sandy Park, which so many Premiership sides fail to do this season and then to win away in Montpellier, that was an unbelievable run of results.

“To back that up with two big wins in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, it is hard not to be very positive about this game on Saturday.”

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O’Driscoll believes the brand of rugby Leinster are playing under the watch of Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster offers the team a platform to produce a perfect blend of winning rugby, as he suggests the duo are an unlikely coaching dream team.

“Maybe they are not the guys you would expect to see working in unison, but they are quite similar and clearly have similar qualities in many ways,” adds O’Driscoll.

“They demand a big work ethic from their players, they are very humble guys and there is no ego between the two of them.

“They are happy to share the credit that comes when you have the kind of success they are chasing this weekend and that is important in this kind of set-up.

“They also seem to know their role in the set-up. Stuart is very much hands on in his role on the pitch with the players and while Leo is there as well, he is left to do a lot of administrative side of things and they are dovetailing perfectly together. Both accept that the other deserves great credit for the job they have done.

“I think that ethos runs through the team. A lot of sports teams have a lot of ego around these days and we especially see that in Premier League soccer, where players don’t always give of their all every week for one reason or another, but I don’t feel that will be an issue with this Leinster team.

“There are no ego issues in that dressing room and that stems from the top with Cullen and Lancaster. That makes for a great culture in that Leinster.”

Ireland’s glorious rugby year will have another golden moment to toast if Leinster confirm their status as Europe’s finest and O’Driscoll believes they will get the job done.

“Everything points to a Leinster win by eight to ten points,” adds the Ireland legend.

“It would be fitting if Leinster can complete a wonderful year for Irish rugby by adding the Champions Cup to the Grand Slam success and for these Leinster players, I think they are ready to take this title.”

BT Sport is the only place to watch rugby from the Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and the Aviva Premiership. Watch Leinster v Racing 92 on Saturday from 4:00pm live on BT Sport 2. For more info visit www.bt.com/sport

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