We need fresh energy for Munster showdown - Cullen

 rte.ie  05/17/2019 16:10:07 

Updated / Friday, 17 May 2019 17:09

Leo Cullen said Leinster require "fresh energy" for Saturday's mouthwatering Pro14 play-off semi-final showdown with Munster at the RDS after a period of licking their wounds.

Last weekend's massively disappointing Heineken Champions Cup final loss to Saracens has only served to heighten the desire within the camp to turn over Johann van Graan's men and keep alive Leinster hopes of earning some silver.

Cullen has made changes for the clash, most notably naming Ross Byrne at out-half instead of Johnny Sexton and throwing Josh van der Flier back into the fray after a lengthy absence with a groin injury. Rhys Ruddock also comes back into the fold and Dave Kearney gets the nod on the wing. Sexton will start on the bench. 

It is, says the head coach, simply a matter of freshening things up at the tail end of a bruising campaign.

"There are a lot of different factors but ultimately for us, we have come off a huge final which we've lost, unfortunately," said Cullen when reflecting on his starting XV on Friday.

"We're trying to get a bit of fresh energy into the team and it also gives us a lot of experience coming off the bench, particularly with Johnny and Scott Fardy, having those two leaders to call on later in the game if required.

"Ross has done well during the chances he's had, played a lot of games for us this year, built up a huge amount of experience so it's another positive step for him as well.

"Seány [O'Brien, who isn't in the match-day panel at all] didn't quite come through the week. We thought he would initially, but he trained yesterday and didn't come through that so that ruled him out.

"Rob [Kearney, also not in the squad] is similar. He's actually okay now, he's not a million miles away.

"It's just about seeing how he gets through the week. We want fit guys ready and everyone able for the challenge we're going to face."

Tomorrow offers Leinster a golden chance for swift redemption after the painful loss in Newcastle. They'll be favourites to get through this one and make another final but Cullen knows Munster are coming to Dublin on a mission.

"It's going to require a full, physical effort from everyone this week because they're an opposition that are highly motivated.

"I've heard numerous people in their team over the course of the season talking about how desperate they are to win silverware before leaving the province, so we know it's going to be a great challenge.

"There's so much at stake. There's the Pro14 this season, but there's a lot of little sub-plots as well."

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