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Leo Cullen addresses Hugo Keenan's controversial switch to 7s

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Monday Jun 10, 2024

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has addressed the topic of his first-choice fullback Hugo Keenan’s decision to link up with the Irish 7s program ahead of the upcoming summer Olympics.

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Asked about why one of the game’s best fullbacks would forgo an opportunity to feature for his club in the knockout stages of the league and also Ireland’s upcoming tour to South Africa. Cullen was effusive in the his support of his player.

“You look at a top-end player like Hugo, and he’s been an unbelievable servant for Leinster and for Ireland.” Cullen said before pointing to the prize on offer, “He’s still a relatively young man. He gets the opportunity to represent Ireland, where you can win an Olympic medal.”

Discussing it from Keenan’s perspective, Cullen said, “If you look through his lens, it’s a difficult choice for him to make because he felt bad in particular, off the back of losing a Champions Cup final.

“He doesn’t like leaving the group, but again, there’s an opportunity there.”

Focusing on the long term benefit Keenan’s decision could have for Leinster, Cullen said, “So it’s one of those tough choices, and I think everyone has to support him in making a tough choice because, you know, there’s two amazing opportunities.

“You just want to support players because, again, you want to give them opportunities, so it extends his time where he’ll get, hopefully in the future that we will be whatever in the situation where we’re playing Bulls.

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But hopefully, when he’s up for contract next and he has the opportunity to potentially go somewhere else, that he goes, ‘Listen, I want to stay here because of the loyalty support that everyone has given me.’ You guys in the media have totally backed him and supporters have totally backed him.”

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