Monday 11 December 2017

Isa: I've come back 'wiser'

Nacewa needs one more try to break his best return of 2010/11

Leinster’s Isa Nacewa is top of the try charts in his second stint with the Blues Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Isa Nacewa is top of the try charts in his second stint with the Blues Photo: Sportsfile

Isa Nacewa never stopped to consider what an unsuccessful return to Leinster would do to his legacy.

It's just not the way he's built. Failure was never an option.

"I think if I didn't come back and I knew I could have, it would have been failing in my mind," said the club captain.

"It was just a new challenge. The past is the past. You can't get away from that," said the 33-year-old.

"I wanted to chase more trophies. Let's create more history."

There were those nay-sayers who were suspicious of his time out of the game, especially in the area of the pitch where speed is of the essence.

From his five previous seasons, Nacewa picked up seven tries in just one of them in 2010/2011 from 31 starts plus one more off the bench.

He has reached that mark in exactly half that number of games from 16 starts to sit second in behind Matt Healy (9) on the PRO12 try chart.

This statistic alone makes it look like he's better than ever.

"I think when you get into your 30s, you get a bit wiser, and you pick better lines to run," he smiled.

"The majority of my tries, the guys around me have done all the hard work.

You've just got to be out there to put yourself in a position to finish them.

"If tries come, they come. It is nice to get across the line. It is far better to get the win at the end of the day."

Leo Cullen will agree with that assertion in guiding Leinster to twelve wins from from 15 rounds.

There is a catalogue of statistics to back-up the argument that the coach is really putting his stamp on the club.

They have the best points-difference (+155) in the League, coming in at double the amount of the next best club Ulster (+77).

Kurt McQuilkin has put together the best defence in the competition, in terms of tries (15) and points (170) conceded.

Girvan Dempsey's attack isn't too shabby either as Leinster rank second in tries (37) and third in points scored (325), both categories headed by Connacht.

This will all be tested by The Ospreys in both areas when Rhys Webb leads them out this afternoon.

"I don't think The RDS is a place they particularly fear based on recent history," said Cullen in relation to their 2010 and 2012 PRO12 final wins there.

"You know, they had a really good win with a very similar group of players away in Munster down in Cork.

"They'll come here with plenty confidence."

Leinster: Z Kirchner; F McFadden, G Ringrose, B Te'o, I Nacewa (capt); I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy, S Cronin, M Ross, R Molony, M Kearney, R Ruddock, D Leavy, J Murphy.
Ospreys: D Evans; J Hassler, J Matavesi, O Watkin, B John; S Davies, R Webb (capt); N Smith, S Parry, D Arhip, T Ardron, R Thornton, J King, O Cracknell, D Baker.

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster v Ospreys, The RDS, Today (KO 3.0), live Sky Sports 1

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