Leinster captain LEO CULLEN, who is line to make his 100th league appearance in his next outing for his home province, believes that the squad are facing into an exciting but season-defining few weeks starting with the visit of Connacht on Saturday.
“From our perspective we have to try and build some momentum coming into a busy next few weeks which will go a long way to defining the rest of the season.
“We need some big results and we need to try and get some more rhythm to our play. Against Clermont in the Aviva, we gave away too many kickable penalties and (Morgan) Parra kicked seven out of 8 of them. Then against Ulster Paddy Jackson missed a few fairly kickable shots at goal, but Ruan Pienaar stepped up and kicked well.
“And this weekend Dan Parks will punish any penalties we give away because he has such a high kicking percentage and has proven himself time and again over the years. So we need to be more careful about giving quality sides easy opportunities to keep the scoreboard ticking over. These kinds of games are won and lost over the finest of margins.
“We learned a few harsh lessons over in the Sportsground last time out against Connacht. I acted as water-boy that day and it was tough watching from the sidelines. They brought greater physicality to the game and they dominated us in that regard in Galway. We can’t allow them to have that kind of an upper hand again.
“So as 2012 draws to a close and we move into a new year, it’s still all to play for. My first wish is that we get a few more points on the board. When we get a few more bodies on the deck that will boost competition for places because we’ve been disrupted through the first half of the season and we have lacked a bit of fluency thus far.
“Ulster are racing clear at the top of the table and they’re going to be very hard to rein in, so we need to dig deep to get back into the top four. Then we travel to Edinburgh in the PRO12 before facing Scarlets at home in Europe and then travel to Exeter Chiefs where they have a great record at home.
“By the end of January we’ll know our fate and we have a bit of ground to catch up on. And, for us, that process starts this weekend.”
Name: Leo Cullen
DOB: 9th January 1978
Raised: Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow
Height: 1.98 m (6' 6")
Weight: 111 kg (17 st 6 lb)
Club: Blackrock College RFC
School: Blackrock College
Leinster Caps – Career: 189 (4 tries)
Leinster Caps – 2012/13: 11
Leinster 'A' Caps: 5
Ireland Caps: 32
Ireland 'A' Caps: 17 (Captain v England in 2006/07)
Ireland Under-21 Caps: 16 (14 as Captain)
Leinster Under-20 Caps: 7
Ireland Under-19 Caps: 4 (3 as Captain)
Ireland Schools Caps: 7
Leinster Schools Caps: 3 (Also played in all 8 games on 1995/96 Australia tour)
Leicester Tigers Appearances: 56 (15 as Captain)
Leicester Tigers Heineken Cup Appearances: 12