Saturday 25 November 2017

Former Ireland star blasts Leinster for bringing back Isa Nacewa

Isa Nacewa will return to Leinster next season
Isa Nacewa will return to Leinster next season

Des Berry

Former Ireland lock Donal Lenihan has cast doubts over Leinster's resigning of Isa Nacewa.

"I think that's a strange decision," he said.

Nacewa retired from the profession at the end of the 2013 PRO12 League Grand final, citing injury and the pull of family and has not laced his boots in two years.

The 32 year-old will risk his legacy at Leinster for love of the province after being employed by the Super-15 Auckland Blues as a Mental Skills coach, working under head coach John Kirwan,

"If a guy hasn't played a game in two years, what are you basing the signing on?" asked Lenihan.

"Great players retire. It doesn't mean they can come back after two years, not having played a match, and be as good as they were."

However, Nacewa does not have to be as good as he was, just good enough to make a difference in a time of need.

There has been much made of the lack of leadership in the middle-tier of Leinster once the large contingent of Ireland internationals are not available.

"They're trying to solve a leadership void," said Lenihan.

"He's obviously been an excellent fella' when he was there. He had a great influence on other people."

Lenihan drew an understandable comparison with Pat Lam's marquee signing of an All Black centurion.

"It's a bit like Mils Muliaina in Connacht. They bought him for a reason.

"Did he perform on the field? I don't think he did personally.

"Will Nacewa perform when he comes back? You can't say because you've nothing to judge it on."

The difference there is that Nacewa spent five seasons at Leinster where his attitude to the province was held up to the light as an example of true professionalism.

The province is confident f their prodigal son's commitment to the cause and how it was driven by his everyday application.

Clearly, Leinster have taken the view Nacewa's two-year period of inactivity is something he can overcome.

Afterall, they know exactly who they are dealing with in this case.


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