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Leinster manager Leo Cullen aims for top spot and home advantage in playoffs


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Leinster boss Leo Cullen is pleased with the United Rugby Championship organizers’ decision to have the Grand Final staged by the best-placed side as his side are close to securing first place.

Speculation pointed to a fixed venue for the showpiece game being played in South Africa, but that ended with the organizers’ recent announcement.

Close to first place

Cullen believes the decision rewards the best-placed team and has the business advantage of selling enough tickets. Leinster are just two points clear of first place but face a tough Stormers side in the second game of their South African tour.

“Yeah, what do we need, two more points to guarantee first place?” Cullen told the Irish Times.

“It doesn’t guarantee you any success, but it does guarantee you the comfort of your home, I guess.

“So you’re trying to stack the game as much as possible in your favor. I think that’s probably just a reward.

“Could you define a final destination in advance? I don’t know the ads around it, but I think it’s hard to do from what we’ve seen with Super Rugby. Super Rugby never went with that destination final, they always had it as their home team.

“And even with a week to sell, even with a home team, we know it’s not as easy as people think. Mid-June there’s a lot of other stuff going on in terms of competition for the time of bettors. This is probably the big challenge from a business point of view.

Cullen has selected an inexperienced squad to travel to South Africa to rest other players ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final and believes that despite losing to the Sharks 28-23 in Durban last weekend, the players held on.

“The way the system works, you can’t get the most out of our players and our players are our assets at the end of the day, right?” said Cullen, also highlighting their November, Six Nations and summer tour commitments with Ireland.

“We were confident they would give a decent account of themselves so the challenge for us is to try to do that again this week. I think you can get a young group into one game, but the challenge is trying to get them into another game.

“The Stormers are a different type of team, much more of an attacking threat in terms of the way they play. It also has to do with the conditions because when you’re in Durban, the humidity, there’s been quite a bit of rain, it’s been a lot harder for them to play, so they’ve got a lot more power play and kicking game, whereas the Stormers will be throwing the ball a lot, keeping the ball alive, dumping out of the way all the time contact.

“They are more like a Toulousain, say, trying to keep the ball off the ground and less inclined to set up rucks. They’re a good team to watch. If you watched their game against Glasgow [which the Stormers won 32-7] and some of the tries they scored, it’s a very, very dangerous team.

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The article United Rugby Championship: Leinster manager Leo Cullen aims for top spot and home advantage in the playoffs appeared first on Planetrugby.com.