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Sunday 25 September 2016

Matt O'Connor: Isa Nacewa is in good shape and has unfinished business at Leinster

Isa Nacewa, Leinster, celebrates with the cup in 2013. Celtic League Grand Final, Ulster v Leinster, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Isa Nacewa, Leinster, celebrates with the cup in 2013. Celtic League Grand Final, Ulster v Leinster, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor has welcomed the return of Isa Nacewa and says the 32-year-old has unfinished business with the province.

The Australian coach this morning confirmed that Nacewa, who has been working with the Auckland Blues as a mental skills coach, will be returning in a playing capacity only.

In five seasons with Leinster Rugby the Fijian international made 126 appearances, scoring 24 tries and winning three Heineken Cup titles and a PRO12 title, but has not played at the highest level since the 2013  PRO12 Final in the RDS against Ulster .

O'Connor however has no fears over his lack of match practice.

"He hasn't played in a bit but he hasn't been alien to a rugby environment either working with the Auckland Blues as a mental skills coach and he has really enjoyed his time there," he said.

"He has kept himself in good shape and was always in regular contact with some of the lads here like Leo.

But there is obviously still a feeling that he has unfinished business on the pitch and we are just delighted that he feels that it is with us.”

With the World Cup on the horizon, O'Connor feels that Nacewa will add some much-needed strength-in-depth to his squad when the front line players are away on international duty.

"We mentioned last week how our resources will be tested during the World Cup window and to be able to bring in a top quality player who we know will contribute massively to the environment when the more experienced lads are away, is huge for us.

When those guys are back, he'll drive it even more. To have Isa return on the back of the news that Johnny is also coming back and Mick Kearney signing, it's been a huge few weeks for us as we look to build for next season.”

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