No revenge mission for Cullen's Leinster in Champions Cup final rematch

·3-min read
Leo Cullen took over as Leinster head coach in 2015
Leo Cullen took over as Leinster head coach in 2015

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said on Friday revenge is not on his mind as they face La Rochelle again in this weekend's Champions Cup final.

The Irish province missed out on a joint-record fifth title in last May's defeat to the French side in Marseille but this Saturday's game will be held at their home city's Lansdowne Road.

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"It's not about that," Cullen told reporters.

"It's about being at home and it's about delivering a performance in front of your own fans.

"Hopefully we'll have that sea of blue there, that's enough motivation for us," he added.

The final of the Champions Cup, with South African teams included this season for the first time, has been held in the Irish capital on four occasions.

In 1999, Leinster failed to reach the knockout stages as fellow Irish side Ulster beat Colomiers in the final. In 2003 they lost in the semi-finals, and a decade later they were knocked out in the pool stage.

"It's great to be here, it's a real honour," Cullen said.

"Pressure's a good thing. It's the most positive pressure we can have," he added.

Lansdowne Road will be sold-out for the meeting, held a 15-minute walk from Leinster's RDS Showground home.

"There's a certain delight or enjoyment factor when you go into the Lion's Den," La Rochelle director of rugby Ronan O'Gara told reporters.

"We're going to enter into that tomorrow.

"We'll either grow or we'll shrink, we're ready to go," he added.

- The 'real' Danty -

Ex-Ireland fly-half O'Gara won the Champions Cup twice during 16 seasons with Leinster's bitter rivals Munster.

During Friday's press conference and training session he wore a red jumper, his former province's colour.

"I have three choices, red, grey or turquoise," O'Gara jokingly said.

"Turquoise is in the wash, the green is tomorrow," he added with a cheeky smile.

O'Gara has picked France centre Jonathan Danty to start with the 110kg midfielder having only played once since mid-April due to a rib issue.

"He's not a guy made for training, he's a guy made for matches," O'Gara said of the 30-year-old.

"There are a lot of players who are good when there's no tackling.

"But we'll see the real Jonathan Danty when there's contact.

"It's the moment to show that to the Irish crowd because he's done that for France on many times," he added.

This weekend's match will also mark Stuart Lancaster's final game as Leinster coach while veteran fly-half Johnny Sexton will be missing through injury, before an expected retirement after the Rugby World Cup, starting in September.

"Johnny's been an amazing contributor to the team over such a long period of time," Cullen said of the 37-year-old Ireland fly-half.

"Stuart has done seven years with the club, an amazing servant in terms of time, commitment, energy, everything.

"The two guys will leave a great mark on a lot of us, hopefully they’ll have a good send-off tomorrow," he added.