Cullen pays tribute to Schmidt
Leinster captain Leo Cullen believes coach Joe Schmidt's intensity is the secret behind their glut of European success.
Last Updated: 20/05/12 1:40pm
Leinster captain Leo Cullen believes coach Joe Schmidt's "relentless pursuit of excellence" is the secret behind their glut of European success.
Cullen's side thrashed Ulster 42-14 at Twickenham on Saturday to become the first side to win the Heineken Cup three times in four years.
Leinster also recorded the biggest winning margin in a Heineken final, while the five-try haul and points tally also set new figures.
They will now turn their attentions to securing a domestic and European double when they take on the Ospreys in next Sunday's RaboDirect PRO12 final, hoping to become the first side since Wasps in 2004 to achieve that feat.
And Cullen says that New Zealander Schmidt, who has masterminded two successful Heineken Cup campaigns since moving to Dublin in 2010, is the driving force behind their historic run.
"Joe brings a relentless pursuit of excellence," the 34-year-old lock said.
"He demands high standards, and it is great for the players. All the coaching staff work so hard with this squad.
"Looking back, we won the Celtic League in its first year (2002), and we thought we would push on from that, but we crashed out of Europe pretty embarrassingly on a few occasions.
"In 2007 I couldn't really see how the team was going to be successful in the immediate future. It was just a very disjointed period.
"But Michael Cheika then came in as coach and changed the mentality. He brought in some quality players and some good young players came through as well. The team was desperate to be successful.
"It wasn't pretty when we won the Heineken Cup in 2009, we sort of fell over the line in the final against Leicester at Murrayfield, but the belief was there and we knew we had to kick on after that."
Schmidt was keen to deflect the praise onto his players, many of whom had already started to talk about next week's Ospreys challenge before even leaving Twickenham.
Schmidt said: "The players put a lot of energy into it. There is a degree of resolve for next week, and when it is coming from the players it makes it easy for me to crack the whip.
"It is an achievement for this group of men. They get on so well together, they are a very tight-knit unit and they are such a coachable group.
"They really want to try to be the best they can be, and they work really hard to do that. The leadership is superb across the board.
"The players bring a resolve and they unite in that. It does make them very tough to break down for opposition teams.
"We have got a bit left on our plate, and we will now focus on the final next Sunday and give that our best shot.
"I would like to think we can select from a full squad. No-one pulled up too badly, and we know that anyone who can beat Munster 45-10 - as the Ospreys did in the semi-finals - have to be a very good side."