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Leo Cullen: Ospreys don't fear travelling to Dublin

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Leinster players, from left, Jimmy Gopperth, Brendan Macken, Mike McCarthy, Mick McGrath and Ben Marshall arrive for squad training ahead of their Guinness PRO12, Round 9, game against Ospreys tomorrow. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster players, from left, Jimmy Gopperth, Brendan Macken, Mike McCarthy, Mick McGrath and Ben Marshall arrive for squad training ahead of their Guinness PRO12, Round 9, game against Ospreys tomorrow. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Leinster players, from left, Jimmy Gopperth, Brendan Macken, Mike McCarthy, Mick McGrath and Ben Marshall arrive for squad training ahead of their Guinness PRO12, Round 9, game against Ospreys tomorrow. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster may still be unbeaten at the RDS this season but if there's one team that don't fear travelling to Dublin, it's the Ospreys.

That's according to forwards coach Leo Cullen, who has been involved in enough "physical battles" with the Welsh side to know how much of a threat they are to Leinster's proud home record.

Ospreys arrive in Dublin tomorrow sitting on top of the table, despite losing to Ulster in Belfast last weekend.

Just like Leinster, Ospreys are likely to still be without several of their front-line international players but Cullen is fully aware of their strength in depth as well as the need for a major improvement from his side after an under-par performance in Treviso last weekend.

"Ospreys are a totally different proposition (to Treviso)," Cullen admitted.

"They are top of the league, and every time we play the Ospreys, even though they might be missing a couple of bodies from Wales, it's going to be the same with us realistically. We're going to be missing bodies as well.

"It's always a massive physical challenge, they go hard at the ball in defence. They go hard at you to test you out. When they have the ball, they'll take us on. They'll be confrontational, whether that's with the drive or picking and going at the fringes.

"We saw how they went against Munster down in Limerick earlier in the year, how confrontational they are. They won't have any fear of travelling here. They know us pretty well, we played them four times last year," he added.

As well as the four meetings between the two sides last season, there are also a couple of familiar faces now involved within the Ospreys set-up.

Former strength and conditioning coach Johnny Claxton left the Irish province for Swansea at the start of the season, while Jono Gibbes' brother Chris is also on their books but Cullen is keen for the focus to remain on his own side as they look to go into Europe on the back of a positive performance as well as a result.

"Listen, it's going to be a tough challenge and we need to be a hell of a lot better mindset or head space going into this weekend because the performance we had at the weekend was very, very disappointing," he admitted.

"Off the back of a pretty good performance, I thought, against Edinburgh - when a lot of similar guys played. It's an inexperienced group for sure, but they acquitted themselves very well against Edinburgh. The disappointing thing was we didn't back that up.

"It was almost like we scored a try and eased off. Treviso got back into the game, it was a pretty soft try we gave away. Some very poor defence from our point of view.

"We just didn't managed the game particularly well after that. That's probably the most disappointing thing."

Cullen also defended Jimmy Gopperth's poor performance against Treviso and maintained that it is not a forgone conclusion that Ian Madigan will come straight back into the side at out-half after impressing for Ireland throughout the last month.

"Jimmy had a bug during the week, so I think he was a little bit off-colour. Mads obviously played against Georgia and played pretty well.

"We play Ospreys this weekend and two massive European games, but Jimmy has been pretty good for us. He's managed us through a difficult period where we've got a couple of really good results.

"Listen, Jimmy has been going well. He wasn't the only one who didn't perform to the best of their ability against Treviso."

Irish Independent