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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Cullen out to thwart Leinster copycat coach Townsend

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Professional rugby, like America's National Football League, is mostly a copycat business.

In that way, when Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend took over The Warriors, the 'Great Scot' leaned heavily on the Leinster starter and strike plays devised by Joe Schmidt.

It would seem it is something of a mutual appreciation society of two.

"Ah yeah, I think the two of them became quite close as well. I think they share quite a lot of ideas," said Leinster coach Leo Cullen.

The province will make the trek to Scotstoun for Friday night where they will look to take advantage of their one game in hand on Connacht to head-up the PRO12.

Glasgow will counter by pursuing gains from the two they have to spare against four of the six clubs above them.

"They're well coached, they're very comfortable in holding onto the ball for long periods," said Cullen.

"Then, the flip side of that, in defence they're pretty aggressive at the breakdown."

It could just be Leinster's better discipline that may be the platform for a good night's work.

"They do push the boundaries, they play on the edge," said Cullen.

"I think we came in for a bit of criticism for our discipline for having seven yellow cards. They're, I think, on 13, so they do push the boundaries."

"I think over the course of last season they were definitely the standout team in the league."

Leinster will need all available hands up for this one as they confront the club that will suffer comparable losses due to the Ireland-Scotland Six Nations match on Saturday.

Flanker Jordi Murphy has been released by national coach Schmidt.

The decision of Schmidt to drop Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong back down to the provincial set-up since a cameo against France was made in the name of balance with Finlay Bealham having played on both sides of the scrum this season.

"Tadhg has come back in and applied himself really, really well," said Cullen.

"Tadhg has picked up some really good experience this year and he'll come through and be stronger for it."

On the injury front, number eight Jack Conan, wing Dave Kearney and prop Marty Moore are outside bets to make a return to action.

Luke Fitzgerald is no more than a couple of weeks away and Sean O'Brien will return in 3-4 weeks as long as the flanker maintains "steady progress."

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