Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Stormers will be ‘proper test’ for table-topping Leinster, says coach Cullen

The visitors from Ireland are coming off a surprise defeat by the Lions.

Irish giants Leinster are expecting a kicking assault from the Stormers when the teams clash in their vital United Rugby Championship match at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.

Both the Stormers and Leinster suffered disappointing defeats over the past weekend, which has put their respective goals in jeopardy, with the hosts now in a massive battle to make the URC top four, while Leinster are in danger of losing top spot.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen is thus expecting an exciting battle, and despite the Stormers being accused of overplaying too much this season which has led to some disappointing results, he expects them to continue with the same gameplan.

Kicking game

“A lot of the Stormers’ scores come from transition play, but that comes off the back of a very strong kicking game. I expect them to kick the ball quite a lot,” explained Cullen.

“We will get a better idea of what conditions will be like later in the week, but they will kick the ball a lot, I think. That’s how they look for those broken field opportunities, where they can use their speed and some of the guys who are very good at keeping the ball alive.

“We need to make sure that we deal with their kicking game nice and early, and not give them the access that we gave the Lions last weekend.”

The Stormers are now sixth on the log, six points off the Bulls in fourth and know that another loss will likely end their slim chances of making it into the URC top four to secure a home playoff.

Leinster’s goal of finishing top of the log is also under pressure now as they are just one point ahead of Glasgow Warriors in second, who will be expected to beat Zebre away this weekend, so if Leinster suffer another defeat they could find themselves off the top.

‘Proper challenge’

“You will see two teams that are highly motivated. It was a really good game against the Stormers at the RDS last year which was a draw. It’s a proper challenge for our guys, but they know that. There’s a lot of them who have faced the Stormers previously,” said Cullen.

“If you look at their squad, they have a ton of Springboks, so it’s a proper test, but this is how you want to test guys. We will go back to our process and make sure we prepare well this week, to give ourselves the best chance.

“We’ve seen a hell of a lot of the Stormers, because they were on our side of the Champions Cup. We were planning to play either La Rochelle or the Stormers (in the quarterfinals) and that game (last 16 match) went down to the final kick.

“So it’s a great challenge and a great stadium. It’s a proud rugby franchise and team, so it will be a huge challenge for us.”