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Monday 18 June 2018

Success means more in my Second Coming - Nacewa

ICON: Leinster’s Isa Nacewa. Pic: Sportsfile
ICON: Leinster’s Isa Nacewa. Pic: Sportsfile

The 'Second Coming of Isa Nacewa' was fraught with danger to his legacy.

They say former clubs are like old girlfriends - you should never go back.

It just doesn't work out the second time around unless both sides are completely committed to make the marriage work.

Leinster's captain is one of those selfless beings, incapable of putting himself first when it comes to this team, his team.

When news filtered through of his return to Leinster after a two-year retirement from playing, the naysayers were out in force decrying a backward step for a club in a state of flux.

Did he ever consider the risk to his legacy, of ruining is beautiful Blue memories?

"No. I think back to 2015. It was just pure excitement to get back here and to push on and chase more," he stressed. "The Champions Cup trophy took a little longer than expected to get to."

Hero

Therein is the true story, how the hero returned, like Jonathan Sexton to find a culture eroded in the wake of a glut of retirements.

"The landscape had changed," he recalled. "I thought we could just rock back here and push that way straight away.

"But, we had to build and get to that point."

He took on the captaincy and a personal crusade to take Leinster back to where he left them.

Interestingly, it means even more to Nacewa the second time around.

"Yeah, definitely. I think just from the position we came from as a club, post the loss against Connacht in the (PRO12) final, how we built and learned from that."

The transition has happened in tandem with the emergence of a new generation of like-minded individuals who will stop at nothing to win everything.

"There are a lot of really good leaders in the squad at the moment that had a lot of input into changing our everyday practices, changing our behaviours," said Nacewa.

"When you've put a lot of input in like that, it's pretty satisfying."

The long summer ahead will extend into a lifetime as Nacewa hangs up his boots - for good this time.

The physical toll on his body has left the 35 year-old with little or no cartilage, according to James Lowe. He wants it all to end the right way.

"It's important. There's 55 guys that have been involved in this campaign alone," he declared.

"It means a lot to every single one of us.

"We've been driving, just chasing a performance this week from the squad and the squad's been unbelievable since recovering from Munster and getting into this week."

Fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac, the man plotting to make his last game a losing one, is ideally placed to offer a tribute.

"I've known Isa since he's been in our Academy back in Auckland," said the Scarlets coach.

"He's just told me he's playing his last game tomorrow. I said, 'I'll believe that when I see it. You said that once before.'

"He's had a fantastic career. I know he loves this place. It's been good to him and he's been good to the club.

"He's a very proud man. He's very proud of this Leinster club that he plays for.

"He will be wanting to go out on a high note. Unfortunately, we have to try to stop that."

Isa wouldn't have it any other way.

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