Friday 19 January 2018

Leo Cullen explains his decision to drop Devin Toner for semi-final clash against Scarlets

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster, left, and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen
Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster, left, and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen
David Kelly

David Kelly

LEO Cullen dropped the tallest man in Irish rugby for Leinster's semi-final clash with Scarlets at the RDS tomorrow and some may feel he offered the tallest story to explain his call.

"Devin didn't train last week and he was carrying a knock from Ulster," was coach Cullen's simple reaction when asked why the Irish lock was culled.

"Ross Molony and Hayden Triggs have done well this season in combination with each other."

Yet Toner has already been dumped by Ireland this spring and the one-time Lions candidate must now react to this latest career blow - after all, if he is fit enough to start on the bench, he is fit enough to start.

"It's just a competitive group. Devin will come on and it is important he can make an impact there and we can finish strongly."

Sean O'Brien continues to recover, slowly, from his hamstring injury but will arise from the bench although namesake Cronin misses out again.

"Sean is making good progress, we are still managing him. We've picked a strong team and reserves who hopefully will represent Leinster well.

"We've used 51 players in 22 games so there are always tough calls.

Sean Cronin's neck injury happened after the Clermont match so you're never sure how they will settle down, we have to watch that closely.

"It leaves him very tight for the month ahead and being out of the tour, it's about getting him right."

Leinster have a 6-2 split on the bench which may be a risk.

"Rhys (Ruddock, captain) is covering a few positions! But there is a risk when you have a 6-2 split on the bench, we have good versatility.

"Scarlets have a core group who have been the mainstay of their campaign, a bit like us this season.

"We watched the Champions Cup final last weekend, it was a case of what could have been and it was unusual not to have a match before this game."

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