Leinster head coach Leo Cullen says that the festive period presents a "potentially tricky" time for his squad as they embark on three successive interprovincial derbies.

First up is the visit of Connacht to the RDS on Saturday night (kick-off 7.45pm), and Cullen has retained only Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin and Dan Leavy from the side that saw off Bath in Europe last weekend.

Andy Friend’s side are also a much-changed outfit, with just a third of the side that started away to Perpignan set to start in Dublin.

"We’ll do a little bit in terms of mixing and matching, looking at different combinations as we go through the three games," Cullen told RTÉ Sport, though added the standard set must be maintained by whatever team takes to the field.

"For us it is trying to improve as a group, as a collective. We want to make sure we are putting the building blocks in place, rather than picking up poor behaviours that are going to cost us down the track."

After Saturday, the Pro 14 holders travel to Thomond Park (29 September) before Ulster visit for the first outing of 2019 (5 January).

Last season Leinster won the three corresponding fixtures by an aggregate score of 44 points, but is wary that there is a lot going on off the field for players at this time of the calendar.

"I thought the players applied themselves well this time last year. It’s a tricky time of year because there are so many distractions, Christmas and all that goes on with that. Some guys have exams.

"It’s potentially a tricky time of year for us, but lads are working hard"

Cullen’s team are runaway leaders in Conference B, 15 points clear of second place Scarlets, but the head coach refutes the notion that this may impact the team sheet or tactical approach over the next few weeks.

"That mindset of saying, ‘oh we are x amount of points ahead’, that’s not something we are concerned about. It’s more about how do we because a better performing team."

Follow Leinster v Connacht on Saturday (7.45pm) with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the News Now app and listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra