Munster’s intake of South African World Cup winners will not guarantee the return of silverware to the southern province, Leinster boss Leo Cullen has warned.
The interprovincial rivals are preparing for a Guinness PRO14 derby clash behind closed doors at Aviva Stadium on the opening day of Irish rugby’s resumption on August 22 with Johann van Grann likely to unleash Springbok signings Damian de Allende and RG Snyman for their Munster debuts.
Rival head coach Cullen believes the summer arrivals are a strong signal of the quality of the PRO14 championship but also issued a note of caution to Munster supporters hoping trophies are now destined for delivery.
"The fact that we're able to bring World Cup winners into our competition is a great statement of intent and Munster have obviously gone hard at two big signings,” Cullen said yesterday at the launch of an Aviva Ireland and autism charity AsIAm back to school initiative. “We'll see how they go.
"There's no guarantees that it will lead to success but when you get top-end players, it certainly helps. We'll see what kind of impact they make, it's an unknown quantity at the moment."
Cullen contrasted Munster’s summer transfer activity, with full-back Matt Gallagher signing from Saracens and tighthead prop Roman Salanoa joining from Leinster to a quiet lockdown for the unbeaten defending champions.
"We've not had a huge amount of turnover in terms of not having anyone new coming into the group, although we have a number of young players coming in that have been in the environment. That's another challenge for us because even with the way we've been set up with (Covid-19 return to play protocols for) the senior squad and the academy, for this early part, you can't combine that.
"The challenges are so similar for so many people in trying to work their way through this new normal. Some teams will have changed slightly, our team has the bulk of guys still there. Is that an advantage? I don't know, we will find out.
"We've tried to set the lads up to hopefully succeed. You'll always pick up a few injuries when you have that big gap, so hopefully, we can minimise the risk as much as possible. We're doing everything that's in our power so that when players do get back they're prepared, even if it will be strange running around in a pretty much empty stadium."