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Thursday 8 December 2016

Leinster use 50 players for their five wins in PRO12

Leinster's Sean O'Brien, left, Cian Kelleher, centre, and Devin Toner, in action against Scarlets
Leinster's Sean O'Brien, left, Cian Kelleher, centre, and Devin Toner, in action against Scarlets

Leo Cullen held his nerve in selection and Leinster held onto a four-point lead to close the gap on The Scarlets and allow Connacht to move to the head of the PRO12 table.

"It was great to win because Scarlets are use to winning at the moment," he said.

The Leinster coach doesn't like to look back too often. He doesn't have the time or the mindset.

However, he does have the comfort of knowing there have been five wins tucked away now that could make all the difference later in the season.

"I would have preferred seven," he said, with typical dry wit.

The Leinster head count closer resembles one from the American National Football League where there is room for 53 players on each franchise roster.

"It was always going to be a challenging period," he accepted.

"Last year, with Matt (O'Connor) he re, we put in a lot of plans together. It wasn't a surprise to us when we'd guys away at the World Cup.

"We initially budgeted for in or around 16."

That led to pre-season changes to how the club operated as last season's All-Ireland League became a hunting ground and The Academy was fully integrated into the senior set-up.

"We're up to 50 players already in seven games. It is a lot."

The short-term pain of working without all his main men will turn into long-term gain.

"I learned a lot about a lot of players, for sure, how they go about their business every day and how that translates into their performance at the weekend.

"Looking back on last year, there are definitely lessons we can learn about managing ourselves and not taking our eyes off our League form."

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