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Cullen: We can't afford a slip-up

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Leinster players share a light-hearted moment at training at Belfield this week ahead of tonight's Pro12 clash with Glasgow Warriors

Leinster players share a light-hearted moment at training at Belfield this week ahead of tonight's Pro12 clash with Glasgow Warriors

SPORTSFILE

Leinster players share a light-hearted moment at training at Belfield this week ahead of tonight's Pro12 clash with Glasgow Warriors

Leinster forwards coach Leo Cullen has described tonight's Pro12 clash against the league leaders Glasgow Warriors at the RDS as "massive" and a must-win game for the Blues.

The defending champions have already lost six times in this league campaign and Cullen believes they can ill afford any more defeats. He is expecting a response from his side after they lost their last game against Scarlets.

"It's massive. We need to win our home games, particularly against those teams around us," he stressed.

"It was disappointing to lose that home record against Dragons. Glasgow are on top of the league. We are in fifth. We can't afford any slip-ups now. We need to, pretty much, win every week.

"It's going to make life difficult if we lost tonight. We all know the importance of the game."

Leinster will be without their Irish players who started in Murrayfield last Saturday but Cullen was keen to point out that this evening's opponents are likely to be in a similar situation.

Glasgow have already beaten Leinster (22-20) in Scotland back in September and Cullen is anticipating another close contest between the two sides.

"We have played against them in play-off games over the last couple of years. We've had some good tussles with them in the normal domestic league as well," he said.

"They are in a similar sort of situation to us in that they have a lot of international guys coming and going. It's hard to predict what sort of team they have. They'll be in a similar situation reintegrating some of their guys and, maybe, not necessarily all of them.

"They probably have a little breathing room, the fact that they're a little bit ahead, sitting in first in the league whereas it's a bit more must-win game for us.

"Glasgow are a well-coached team and have a very big squad, so even if they're missing international guys, it doesn't necessarily weaken their team because they have a very good squad of players," Cullen added.

Leinster take on Bath in the Champions Cup quarter-final next weekend and Cullen knows the importance of hitting the ground running ahead of that crucial clash at the Aviva Stadium.

In the past, Pro12 teams had two games to prepare for a last-eight European encounter but Leinster have had to slightly readjust their thinking in terms of the availability of their international players.

Leinster, more so than any other Irish province, had key players away on international duty and despite the difficulties that their absence brings, Cullen believes that they will come back into the set-up just as focused and hungry for more success.

"We had 21 guys in camp last week," Cullen pointed out.

"We did a little bit of training towards the end of last week. With so many guys away, it can make life difficult at times.

"We're into a sprint from now until the end of the season. We've got a massive game next weekend, but we've also got a huge game tonight. That's where all our focus is really going at the moment.

"It's into what we hope is three blocks of two, I guess; a Pro12 game into Europe, a play-off game. What we want is to do that three times.

"Then you are into a European final. Someone will have been crowned European champions in less than six weeks. It's a bizarre thought.

"We're refocused for the run-in and we've got some huge games. It's really exciting."

Irish Independent