Leinster to add some serious muscle for Bulls
REACTION: Tournament favourites Leinster, fresh from a 12-try rout of Glasgow Warriors, looks set to receive a boost ahead of the arrival of the Bulls this week.
Leinster sailed into the semifinals with a 76-14 victory over the Warriors, setting up a Dublin encounter with the Bulls on Friday.
In the other Ireland versus South Africa showdown Ulster make the long journey down to Cape Town to take on the Stormers on Saturday.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen was ‘optimistic’ that some of the injured stars who missed the quarterfinal cruise will add some additional muscle ahead of the first of two United Rugby Championship semifinals.
Cullen is hopeful he will have Tadhg Furlong available, after the tighthead was replaced early in the second half of the quarterfinal win over the Warriors – struggling with a back injury.
“Tadhg, his back hurt a little bit, but I don’t think it’s anything major,” Cullen said.
It also remains to be seen if any of Rónan Kelleher, Hugo Keenan, Johnny Sexton or James Lowe will come back into contention.
“In terms of the guys that didn’t feature, we’ll see how those guys are – the four being Rónan, Hugo, Johnny and James,” Cullen said, adding that there were no major injuries in the quarterfinal.
Asked about the Warriors rout, he said: “Job done, on to the next one.
“It’s good that we have another week in the season.
“It’s just trying to enjoy the time together and if we can do that for another week, great.
“If we can do it for another, even better, because the Bulls are a good side.”
The Bulls, who edged out the Sharks 30-27 at the weekend, will pose a different threat to Glasgow.
“It’s really just getting through to the next round, there are no extra points for scoring more tries in these games,” he said.
“It’s on to the next challenge which is the Bulls, which will be significant.
“It’s about enjoying the week, that’s the big thing from my point of view, for the guys to enjoy another week together.
“You see it now with teams who are finished, the season is over, and the groups are never together again in that form.”
Despite a lack of difficulty in the landslide victory over Glasgow, Cullen admitted that the ruthlessness displayed by his men is great for confidence – especially after the La Rochelle loss.
“Yeah, that’s what you need to be in the modern game, isn’t it?” he added.
“It’s just nailing every opportunity that comes along as best as you possibly can, and if you miss out on an opportunity you’re not letting that drag around with you, it’s just moving on to the next challenge, the next moment in the game.
“So yeah, overall I thought the guys did that pretty well.
“That fight and scramble are good, and that’s what you need in these play-off games.”
Asked post-match on Saturday whether Leinster’s one-sided mauling of Glasgow was adequate preparation for a rematch against the Bulls, Cullen replied: “It’s not ideal, that’s fair to say, but you got to deal with what you got to deal with.
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“For some guys, it gives them a bit of confidence but does it really matter going into next week? No. It’s just about getting through into the next round, whether that’s by a point or more than that.
“The Bulls game, on the other hand, was a very tight, tense affair so they prepared for that drop goal late in the game.
“I thought they did well.
“The Sharks had their moments just before that. The Bulls came up with a big turnover, got down to the end of the field, and showed really good composure to win the game.
“Ideally we don’t get ourselves in that situation next week where it’s tight at the end of the game!
“We got to do a bit of work on the Bulls this week.
“The Sharks are a team we played more recently.
“The Bulls we have to think back to round one in the league, back at Lansdowne Road so it’s a long time ago.”