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Questions for Leo Cullen as Leinster fail to meet own expectations once more

Control the controllables. It's the overused Irish rugby mantra that everyone in the system falls back on.

You can't control the bounce of a ball, you can't dictate how the referee will see the scrum and you can’t account for the best player in the world playing his best ever game.

But there’s a list of variables that are within the power of those that make structural decisions over the course of a season at a club.

And Leinster Rugby has fallen short.

If the XV who started Saturday’s 25-20 loss to Bulls don’t start for Ireland against South Africa in three weeks' time then it won’t be far off. They are an international side in club colours.

Leinster will next season be able to supplement superstars RG Snyman and Jordie Barrett into the squad.

When Stuart Lancaster left last season, his replacement was a double-World Cup winning coach. Jacques Nienaber doesn’t come cheap.

Back in 2022 their budget was reportedly around €18million. While it will change next season, their domination of the central contracts has given them leeway to spend elsewhere. None of the other provinces are operating with the same funds.

When the final whistle went at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday it stretched their drought to three seasons.

That covers three narrow Champions Cup final losses and three one-score play-off defeats in the URC. It’s small margins at the top end but it’s no consolation for Leinster that they dine at the top table but are asked to leave before dessert is served.

"The standard for Leinster is silverware and the organisation has to look long and hard at themselves," Jamie Heaslip, a four-time Heineken Cup winner with the province, told RTÉ Sport.

"Essentially, a club side has beaten an international side.

"It’s incredibly frustrating for