Brian O’Driscoll defends decision to select weakened Leinster side against Munster

Leinster

Brian O’Driscoll has backed Leo Cullen’s decision to rest his first-choice players against Munster with the Heineken Champions Cup final against La Rochelle looming.

Leinster are taking on Munster at the Aviva Stadium on the final round of the URC tonight, although none of the starters from last weekend’s win against Toulouse will feature.

Other than provincial bragging rights, the game holds little significance for Leinster as they are guaranteed a first place finish in the URC, while a loss for Munster could see them finish as low as sixth in the table and a win could see them finish second.

O’Driscoll was speaking on Off The Ball and insisted that the right decision was made by Leinster in resting their first-choice players.

Brian O’Driscoll on Leinster’s team against Munster.

“Lads will always say, ‘I want to play’ but you always want to be fit for the Champions Cup final. They’ve qualified first seed, they’ve got a home quarter-final,” O’Driscoll said.

“There’s nothing to be gained except if you are lacking in match fitness to go out and get some game time. I’m really not surprised that they’ve named so few of what will likely be in that 23 taking on La Rochelle next week down in Marseille.

“It’s about being able to have two weeks of focus into the game as well. As much as these lads playing against Munster will be completely focused on Saturday, the other boys wouldn’t have paid a whole lot of attention.

“They would have given the respect of holding tackle shields and preparing them, but off the field they would have been doing all of their prep on La Rochelle.”

A second-string but talented side.

Although Leinster have rested all their first-choice players, head coach Leo Cullen has still selected a team with several Ireland international in tow.

Starters Jordan Larmour, Rory O’Loughlin, Harry Byrne, Ed Byrne, Sean Cronin, Ryan Baird and Max Deegan all have international experience, while the likes of Cian Healy and Devin Toner are on the bench.

Munster have named the strongest team available to them, although they are without Simon Zebo, Damian de Allende and Peter O’Mahony due to injury.

Leinster have had a very good winning record against Munster in recent years, although Johann van Graan will be very confident that his side can notch a win at the Aviva Stadium.

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