Tuesday 22 May 2018

Leo Cullen: It feels a bit weird at he moment but that comes with the job

Leinster’s new head coach eager to continue his winning start

Tonight’s game against Moseley in Donnybrook is the final hit out before Leinster begin their Pro12 campaign away to Edinburgh next week
Tonight’s game against Moseley in Donnybrook is the final hit out before Leinster begin their Pro12 campaign away to Edinburgh next week
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Having started his tenure as Leinster coach with a victory against Ulster last week, Leo Cullen is determined to extend his side's winning run.

Cullen bloodied plenty of young players at Kingspan Stadium and although he will do similar for the visit of Moseley tonight (Donnybrook, 7.30), he doesn't expect to use as many players.

The former second-row admitted that he is still getting used to his new role but he is relishing every minute of it.

Tonight's game against the English Championship side is the final hit out before Leinster begin their Pro12 campaign away to Edinburgh next week and Cullen knows the importance of doing things his own way.

"Everything feels a bit weird at the moment but that comes with the job, I guess. It's a big responsibility and a big challenge but I don't think about it that much," he said.

"It's about trying to get on with the job and doing what comes naturally to me. I'm not trying to be anyone else, I'm just trying to do what I can myself and see where that leads us.

"We can make little improvements by just turning up for work every day. Whether it's planning for a training session to get you to a game or putting some sort of management of the players into some overall scheme of the season and how you want to get to a certain point.

"A big part of the job is the planning process, having a clear idea of where you want to get to and how you're going to go about getting there.

"If, at some point, you fall off the rails along the way, it's about how you get back on track. When you start getting into games, there will probably be about 100 things you think you need to fix, but you have to focus it down to the most important two or three."

Moseley who are currently coached by former Ireland centre Kevin Maggs will also face Leinster 'A' in this season's British and Irish Cup.

Plenty of work has gone on behind the scenes in the last two months and Cullen is already learning a lot about his players.

"It's just about seeing some of the things we have been trying to implement; what works and what doesn't - both in attack and defence plus the set piece part of it as well," he said.

"We're looking at a few different combinations. It's all well in theory when you're running around in training in pre-season with no game at the weekend.

"To actually see in real life what it looks like and with bodies flying out against you is good.

"I probably am someone who thinks about the game a lot. It's different as a player because you're thinking about the team. As a coach, particularly in this role, there are different elements and not just the rugby on the pitch."

Ed Byrne (knee) was the only casualty from the win over Ulster but Cullen accepts that injuries are part and parcel of the game.

Plenty of players included in tonight's starting XV will be expected to carry the mantle while Leinster are without their Irish contingent during the World Cup and Cullen will be expecting them to put their hands up for selection in the coming weeks.

"Injuries are probably the hardest part of pre-season games. You need the games but whatever about someone getting injured in a competitive game, it's very tough seeing a player get injured during pre-season," Cullen conceded. "It'll be pretty similar against Moseley. We'll probably look at something similar again. We used 32 players last Friday but I'm not sure we'll use quite as many as that this week."

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