Leo Cullen has been dealt a blow with the news that a number of his front line players will not be involved in the crucial Champions Cup Pool 1 clash against Toulouse at the RDS on Saturday afternoon.
The ‘pool decider’, as it has been dubbed this week, is a sell-out and unfortunately for supporters of the eastern province, the task of defeating the four-time European champions has become a bit more difficult due to the injuries picked up this week.
Rob Kearney, Dan Leavy, Johnny Sexton and Devin Toner in addition to the long-term absentees of Fergus McFadden, Sean O’Brien, Joe Tomane, Nick McCarthy and Will Connors leaves the defending champions utilising their much-praised squad depth.
Kearney picked up a low-grade injury while Leavy picked up a calf injury. Sexton’s omission is due to a tendon issue in his knee which Cullen says shouldn’t put him in doubt for Ireland’s Six Nations opener against England.
“Johnny is making good progress as we’ve said,” Cullen told the media at today’s Captain’s Run.
“He should be okay by then [England game]. Players have to come through training so it’s not straightforward. Like I said, a number of these injuries have been training injuries, little niggles and there’s always big games coming up, so it’s important we’re doing right by the players.”
In term of preparations for Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated clash with Toulouse, Cullen says he is not worried about the number of players who are unavailable to him.
“I’m not someone who is worried about what I don’t have. We have so much faith in the players and the experience and depth we’ve built over the past few seasons. It’s important, we want to have that competition and it’s very, very strong across the squad.
“It doesn’t particularly worry me. I think we’ve got a good group, there’s a lot of experience there if you look at the 1-15, they’re all internationals. There’s 20 of the 23 that have come through the Leinster academy system and they’ve got to get the experience at some stage.
“There’s no magic fix to get guys to 100 caps, you’ve got to get picked 100 times. Guys are maturing all the time and there’s a tonne of experience in our team and in our squad. We’ve full confidence in the guys who are going to represent the group in what is a massive game for the club.”