LEON CULLEN HAS hailed his team for securing a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup, but the Leinster head coach has said that they’re still three wins away from achieving their ultimate aim.
After the pool stages of the competition concluded over the weekend, Leinster will welcome Wasps to Dublin for a quarter-final clash on the weekend of 31 March-2 April.
Leinster, who drew with Castres on Friday night, finished at the top of Pool 4 on 23 points. Wasps finished with 22 points at the top of Pool 2 following yesterday’s 41-27 win away to Zebre.
Their meeting with Wasps will be something of a revenge mission for Leinster, who suffered two comprehensive defeats to the current Aviva Premiership leaders in last season’s pool stages — 6-33 in Dublin and 51-10 in Coventry.
“Qualifying for a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup is something that this club always strives for,” Cullen said. “Securing a home quarter-final is also a massive reward for our supporters who have been magnificent, both home and away over the six rounds.
“I am delighted for them that they have another European game at home to get behind the team. We have needed them at every stage so far and will need them again on the first weekend in April. These Champions Cup quarter-final games often come down to the smallest of margins on the day.
A dejected Jamie Heaslip after Leinster’s 51-10 defeat to Wasps last season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
“After playing Wasps twice in last season’s Champions Cup we are fully aware of the tough challenge that awaits us. Dai Young has recruited heavily once again during the summer and his team are currently sitting at the top of the Aviva Premiership.
“We know as a group that we need to continue to improve to ensure we are able to give a true account of our abilities.”
Leinster were European champions three times in four seasons between 2008-09 and 2011-12, but they haven’t been able to add a fourth title just yet. Toulouse remain the only side to have accomplished that feat, but Cullen hopes that’ll soon change.
He said: “Reaching the last eight is fantastic but it is just another step towards the club’s goal of replicating Toulouse’s achievement of winning four European titles. It’s a challenge that we are all looking forward to hugely.”
Racing centre Chavancy fills Fofana void in France squad‘We’ve only got ourselves to blame’ – Lam frustrated by Connacht’s near miss