Brian O’Driscoll has paid a glowing tribute to the soon-to-retire Leo Cullen, calling him “the heartbeat” of Leinster.
Both O’Driscoll and Cullen will hang up their playing boots after glittering careers with Leinster at the end of this season.
Cullen will take up a coaching role with the province, and O’Driscoll has yet to reveal his plans, although he has indicated that he would like some form of role with Leinster.
Speaking after Leinster’s narrow 15-13 win over Edinburgh, the last regular season game for both O’Driscoll and Cullen, O’Driscoll said “everything that is good about Leinster is everything that is good about Leo Cullen”.
"[Leo] going into a coaching role has to be a good thing for Leinster - Brian O'Driscoll
O’Driscoll said Leinster would never have transformed themselves from “nearly men” to three-time Heineken Cup without the mentality of people like Cullen.
“Him going into a coaching role has to be a good thing for Leinster,” O’Driscoll told RTÉ Sport’s Des Cahill.
Cullen himself paid tribute to the contribution of Leinster fans throughout his time with the province.
“We’ve been very lucky in recent times to have some amazing days, and what make the days so special for us as players is the supporters that make the occasion,” he said.
“The support we’ve had has been phenomenal. When you drive to those games and you see 40-50,000 Leinster supporters, it’s very, very special.
“I’ve had a really special time here as a player. It’s going to be tough to leave.”
He singled out as his favourite moment with Leinster finally winning their first Heineken Cup in 2009.
“That feeling at the final whistle [was the best],” he said.
Speaking about this season, Cullen said Leinster would need to improve upon their performance against Edinburgh if they want to win the RaboDirectPRO12.
“I don’t think we’ve been at our best the last few weeks,” Cullen said. “We need, probably, to put in a better performance.”