Leinster have taken a big risk by resting so many key players ahead of Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse, according to Eddie O’Sullivan.
The holders secured top spot in the Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the start of March and have since used games against Edinburgh, Treviso and Glasgow to hand game time to a number of squad players, while also integrating the likes of Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner back into action after injury lay-offs.
Playing as close to a full strength side as possible in the weekend prior to a big game was traditionally seen as best practice but recently teams have moved away from that template, preferring instead to rest key players.
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Toulouse, currently leading the Top14, have already beaten Leinster this season, 28-27 in the pool stages.
Captain Johnny Sexton is expected to start, having overcome a quad issue, but the Ireland out-half has not lined out since the final game of the Six Nations against Wales on 16 March.
"Leo Cullen must be worried," O’Sullivan told the RTÉ Rugby podcast.
"We’re giving Sexton the benefit of the doubt based on the calibre of player he is and his experience, that he’s going to pitch up and tick all the boxes.
"There’s a risk in it and there’s a bigger risk for Leinster if you look at where they are coming from.
"They beat Ulster but Ulster put in a big shift and Leinster struggled.
"The takeaway from Leo was ‘we were under-cooked’.
"So in the preparation for this game now they made 13 changes against Benetton, 11 changes against Glasgow and they are probably going to make another 10 this weekend so they are under-cooked again by any metric.
We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences"Whether this is Leinster policy, that they are just making the changes because they can and they’ve been really successful except against Glasgow when they got caught, but they are walking away with the league, or that they have to rest players at certain times but there’s really no continuity in this team over the last month.
"If you look at Toulouse, they have won four of their last five games, they are battle-hardened.
"There’s a tipping point here where you are not battle-hardened; you’re fit and you’re healthy but you are not up to speed at the top end of the game and your combinations haven’t played together.
"Robbie Henshaw hasn’t played with [Garry] Ringrose for ages, there are lots of combinations that have not played together, that are the bigger risk, not Johnny Sexton."
Follow Munster v Saracens (3pm, Saturday) & Leinster v Toulouse (3.15pm, Sunday) via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app. Listen to live national radio commentary of Leinster v Toulouse on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport.