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Thursday 14 December 2017

Isa's focus on leinster

Six Nations break gave Nacewa time with twins but his thoughts are now on title tilt

You know the story about waiting for the bus for an hour and then three come along? Well, over the course of the past year you can say that the hands of fate have conspired, making for interesting times in the Nacewa household.

For Isa, the solitary male in a female three-pronged environment who also stars in the Leinster backline, it's a measure of how times have changed since he first thought about moving to the northern hemisphere a little over two years ago.

For, however daunting and treacherous the pressures of match day weeks can be, nothing can take away from the smiles of his new family when he returns home of an evening, weary, tired but happy.

So, while many of his colleagues will squeeze in an interview request around meetings, training, weights or video analysis in the early parts of the week, it says something about Nacewa's life nowadays and how his peripheral borders have now widened.

"Will 5pm or 6pm suit you better to do the interview?'

"No, 8.30am is fine", he replies.

The morning afterwards -- he laughs at the observation.

"The girls are really good and healthy so things are going great," he offered earlier this week. "Seeing as it was Mother's Day last Sunday I wanted to make sure that Simone (his wife) got the chance to rest up, so it was a good hands-on kind of a day with the girls.

"Our twins Mia and Ellie were born on November 15, and they're doing well, thankfully. We got back to Dublin from our wedding in Auckland a few weeks back and they were a bit up and down, but they're settling back into things now.

"I was the second-last of the group of my All Blacks friends from back home not to have started a family. It's an adjustment, life changing as they say, but I've never been happier.

"So, when you say 8.30am it's not that early for me these days. To be honest, I've been up for a few hours already!"

It's just as well the Six Nations has been going on, with all of the major events taking place off the field for the Aucklander who has been in sparkling form for the province again this season.



charged

Before last night's game against the Glasgow Warriors he had touched down in three of Leinster's last four outings, but it has been the selfless nature of his performances which has impressed both supporters and media.

A true team player, he appreciated that this time of year provides opportunities for the squad which will stand the province in excellent stead as we approach the final 10 weeks of the season.

"I really like this time of year", the 27-year-old revealed ahead of the visit of Connacht next weekend. "There are opportunities to get some quality rest in between matches so your batteries are charged and it really sets you up for the remainder of the season.

"One of the major opportunities for Leinster at this time of the year is that we can also show the strength in depth and players can put their hands up for selection.

"From a personal perspective I feel fresh and rested after what had been a physically demanding December and January period. There's a lot to look forward to."

As a reward after the recent Cardiff win to those who were not involved with the Ireland camps, or in the case of Nathan Hines, Scotland, the squad took in a few days rest and recuperation in the relaxed setting of The Heritage resort in Portlaoise.

"It was", as Nacewa put it, "a chance to unwind and get some quality recovery sessions in, as well as two good 10-hour sleeps!"

Since the tail-end of last week though the squad had the visit of Glasgow in their sights and will now look ahead to the visit of an improving Connacht side who have ambitions to achieve Heineken Cup qualification.

"There's nothing better than playing in local derbies. That was the same back home in New Zealand when I played Super 14 and I'm glad that the rivalries are just as passionate here.

"We lost down in the Sportsground last season and we really had to grind out a win against them at home in the RDS. You couldn't ask for better preparation than Connacht at home and then Munster away before going into a big European tie against Clermont Auvergne, but we're just focused on the league now.

"There are no comparisons from this year to last year. We have a challenge to prove how tough we are and how much we want success. Nothing else matters."



formidable

As attention shifts to Croke Park for the final instalment of this year's Six Nations, Nacewa predicts a real battle royale against some familiar foes.

"Before I moved to Ireland I hadn't seen an awful lot of Six Nations rugby, but there's no doubting that Ireland and the quality of the rugby on show have been formidable over the past few weeks.

"It's pretty exciting to see how close the teams are as well as the rivalry that's in each game. It should be interesting."

But Nacewa has bigger fish to fry just now.

And it's just the way he likes it.

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