Leo Cullen was left breathing a major sigh of relief that an outbreak of Covid-19 within his Leinster squad didn’t wipe out more than three senior players ahead of tomorrow’s Heineken Champions opener against Bath at the Aviva Stadium.
he three unnamed individuals are said to be recovering well, while so too is a member of staff, who also tested positive this week.
Despite the unwelcome setback, Leinster will still go into tomorrow’s European clash as overwhelming favourites against a Bath side who have lost all nine of their Premiership games this season.
Cullen, though, admitted that the disruption to his side’s preparations was another reminder that Covid remains rampant in every walk of society.
“It’s always concerning,” the Leinster head coach said.
“Every day we’re in here, every one outside in society at the moment (is the same).
“From a personal point of view, I’ve young kids in school and, one of my kids in particular, in the pod, there was someone out with Covid so it always feels like it’s very very close at the moment.
“A couple of guys this week, it is what it is, thankfully they’re okay, we just manage them through.
“We’ve had some cases over the last while. I think back to last Christmas and that was quite a messy period, we lost a couple of people at that stage, particularly around the close contact bit as well.
“We’re learning all the time, how we best manage it. We do all we can about how to minimise the risk and even this week, extra testing and all the rest to make sure we’re covering all the bases as best we can.
“So yeah it’s something that we have to deal with, there are other teams out there in a much more challenging scenario than we are, it’s fair to say.
“We’ve got a big group of players registered for Europe this year, way more than we would have had in the past so that certainly allows the teams much more flexibility as well.
“You know we’ve got a lot of people through being tested and for the most part guys are okay.
“Thankfully even the guys who are the (positive) cases, the symptoms are very, very mild, generally speaking, which is good.”
Leinster stated “all three players were tested outside the PCR testing window and are now self-isolating”, after which Cullen was asked to elaborate on whether the individuals were symptomatic and tested outside of the routine testing within Leinster.
“Yeah, well, obviously in conjunction with the medics here, so if someone would present with a symptom, then you are trying to piece together whatever potential contacts there may be and everyone else gets tested as well,” Cullen added.
“Obviously we have our normal round of PCR testing as well and even since then we’ve been doing additional antigen tests as well, just to be extra careful to make sure we cover as many bases as we possibly can.”