‘You have the option to just turn it on at this stage of the season’ – Leo Cullen warns troops of Toulouse challenge
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen says his side are ready to topple Toulouse in tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup semifinals at the Aviva stadium.
The reigning European champions and French champions will arrive in Dublin as underdogs, making them a very dangerous affair.
After nominating an unchanged team for the much-anticipated showdown between the two powerhouses, Leinster completed his captaincy run at the Aviva with no late problems.
After that, Cullen described the magnitude of the challenge his side faced.
“You have the option to just turn it on at this stage of the season,” the Leinster coach warned.
“For example there are two different styles, they have the pressure play where they tighten things up and keep the play very, very tight, then they have the ability to open up at moments in the game as well with some of the players that they have have
“It’s pretty well documented, you’ve seen some of their individuals, the big seasons they’ve had, not just with Toulouse but with France as well.
“And they now have a huge amount of experience in the team that they brought on on the big days throughout the Six Nations and you saw it at the November internationals too.
“It’s a big challenge for our boys. They’re the five-time champions, they’re the current champions, they’re the top 14 champions, and they also have a Grand Slam winning group of players.
“But that’s what our guys wanted, they want to play against that kind of team at this stage of the tournament.
“That’s what I mean, we’re waiting now and everyone just wants to get in the game at this point.
“From our point of view there were some good parts in our performance, there are a lot of things we can get better at and that’s what we’ve focused on as a group this week. We just want to get started now.”
Although Toulouse were forced to play 100 minutes in last week’s dramatic win over Munster, Cullen is overestimating the fatigue factor as he aims for a start similar to that of last time at Welford Road.
“I don’t know is the honest answer. Is that a bit tiring? They’re used to the top 14 grind week after week anyway, so it’s the size of the game,” Cullen added.
“We’ll wait and see, it’s not something we’re going to rely on; her tiredness.
“For us, we just want to impose our game regardless of what the opponent did the week before. We tried to find that balance between some intensity this week, recovery from the late return on Saturday night and just good management of the group this week.
“We only have one change to the 23, and her 23 is well regulated. I know they took a few hits in the back last week.
“We have to be able to push through our game when we have the ball and when we don’t have the ball. There’s a certain familiarity to the Aviva, but we can’t count on that. We have the support of the crowd, which feeds into the energy of the team.
“We tried to focus on delivering that kind of performance that brings a lot of energy and intent to our game. Toulouse are very experienced and will try to find ways to break our flow.
“We’ve talked about certain things they might do, but again we need to be able to pay attention to the things they’re trying to force us to do. It’s a fascinating challenge, they’re a great team. We watched with great interest last year, we lost to La Rochelle in the semifinals and watched Toulouse go on and beat La Rochelle.
“It’s a fascinating challenge, we have great respect for them as a team. We’re just excited to get started at this point and dying for kickoff. Let’s do it now, we look forward to it, and simply face the challenge of playing against the best team in Europe over the past 25 years of competition.
“It doesn’t get much better, we look forward to getting started.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/champions-cup/they-have-the-ability-just-to-turn-it-on-at-this-stage-of-the-season-leo-cullen-warns-troops-of-toulouse-challenge-41647046.html ‘You have the option to just turn it on at this stage of the season’ – Leo Cullen warns troops of Toulouse challenge