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VIDEO: Leo Cullen confirms what Jake White has been saying all along

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White has copped a lot of abuse – mainly from uninformed couch pundits – but he has received support from an unexpected source.

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White has been at pains to illustrated that to be successful in two of Europe’s premier competitions – the Champions Cup and United Rugby Championship – requires more depth than most franchises can afford.

He was even accused of ‘disrespecting’ the Champions Cup for not sending a number of injured frontline players to face Northampton Saints in the quarterfinal.

Now his Leinster counterpart Leo Cullen has echoed the same sentiments.

Leinster left Johannesburg empty-handed at the weekend – as the Lions demolished them (44-12) in a URC match at Ellis Park this past weekend.

It was a much-changed team that arrived in Johannesburg – fullback Ciaran Frawley and Springbok lock Jason Jenkins the only survivors from the starting line-up that dethroned Stade Rochelais 40-13 in their Champions Cup quarterfinal the previous week.

However, apart from having departed the Lions’ Den empty-handed, they head to Cape Town to face a desperate Stormers team – raising questions about team selections.

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The Leinster coach, Cullen, said everything is ‘fluid’ as his team starts building towards the Cape Town face-off.

“A lot of work has gone into getting us into the position we are in,” he said of their top billing in the URC and semifinal place in Europe’s Champions Cup.

“We need to work hard to stay there and push on.”

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He admitted there are many antithetical views on ‘rotation’.

“The model we have,” he said. adding: “Is primarily bringing young players through the system.

“You have to give them experience at some point.

“For the bulk of the season, the 18 regular URC games, we use a core group.

“And a lot of those guys are with us here [in South Africa].

“We will make some assessments of what was a good, physical game.

“A few guys are banged up as well, so we will see how they are and make some calls.”

The Leinster coach admitted it is not going to get any easier against the Stormers in Cape Town either.

“That is the beauty of the competition for us.

“It is tough and our guys need to learn some hard lessons sometimes.

“The hope is always that you will be better for that experience.”

Turning to the vexed issue of ‘squad rotation’, Cullen said admitted it is a “challenge”.

(WATCH as Leinster coach Leo Cullen makes some startling revelations after his team’s 12-44 loss to the Lions.…)

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“You are dealing with the length of the season – 18 regular URC games, four Champions Cup games, four play-off games and if you want to win the URC there are another three knock-out games.

“It is a hell of a lot of top-end games.

“Then you also have a lot of guys in your squad also playing international rugby – Six Nations and other [July/November] Tests.

“You need to be able to rely on the next person.

“This competition means a hell of a lot to us.

“We lost in the last two semifinals, but won it the previous four years,” he said of the forerunner – the Pro 14.

“This means a hell of a lot to us, just like the Champions Cup means a hell of a lot to us.

“We would love to stay successful in both competitions, but it is an incredibly hard thing to do.

“You see it in other sports as well, that are trying to juggle different competitions.

“It is pretty hard going, particularly with the nature of rugby – being a contact sport and ensuring you can deliver.

“I am not sure anyone has the exact secret recipe.

“However, we are all searching for it.”

Maybe now people will begin to understand what White has been talking about.

If the tournament’s most successful team don’t possess the secret yet, then White can be forgiven for talking about ‘growing pains’ and ‘school fees’.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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