Friday 20 April 2018

Departing Leinster ace backs Schmidt for Ireland

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

ISA NACEWA believes Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has everything needed to become a successful Ireland head coach.

The departing New Zealander backed his fellow countryman to take the step up if the IRFU decide he is the man to take over from Declan Kidney.

Schmidt is committed to Leinster until the end of next season and his stated intention is to follow Nacewa home in 2014.

But, if his mind was to be changed, the inspirational back believes he would be a fine choice to lead Ireland.

"Whatever team Joe takes is successful," Nacewa said. "His record shows that. Everything is a challenge for Joe and, if he took it on, I think Irish rugby would benefit immensely."

The former Fiji international was speaking yesterday for the first time since announcing that he would retire from rugby at the end of the season.

FAMILY

Nacewa confirmed that his decision to return to New Zealand, despite having a year to go on his contract was purely a family-oriented one, citing the isolation of raising a family so far from the support network of family and friends back home as the reason.

Although he still has the Amlin Challenge Cup and Pro12 in his sights, Nacewa was asked to reflect on his four and a half years at Leinster and said the highlight was beating Munster at Croke Park in 2009.

"I can only say that I have enjoyed the last five years here," he said.

"It's a different environment in Auckland, but I've loved my time here at Leinster and I think playing with the quality of players here has made it that much more special.

"Like, in 20 years time I can tell everyone I played with Shaggy (Shane Horgan) and Drico (Brian O'Driscoll) and Girv (Girvan Dempsey). They're all guys that I always admired and I've had the privilege to play with."

Nacewa spoke of his special relationship with Leinster fans and, given that they can still reach two RDS finals in the Pro12 and the Challenge Cup, he has his eye on making his exit in style.

Irish Independent

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