Thursday 18 January 2018

Isa Nacewa: I'm back at Leinster to win more silverware

New Zealand-born Leinster star backs sabbatical idea for professionals as he returns fitter than ever

Leinster's Isa Nacewa
Leinster's Isa Nacewa
David Kelly

David Kelly

Isa Nacewa has backed the growing trend of players taking sabbaticals as he returns to Leinster admitting to being fitter than ever despite a two-year absence from the sport.

And, after winning five trophies in his first stint with the club, including three European titles, Nacewa has also insisted that he is only returning to the game to hoover up more silverware.

"I did say, 'Never say never' and I also said I would only ever return to one club," said the only overseas player to win the IRUPA Players' player of the year award in 2011.

"I'm here to win trophies, that's the bottom line. It was an easy decision for me to come back and I jumped at the opportunity to do so.

"There are still quality players at this club, there are a whole host of genuine winners here.

"If you put out any Leinster XV, the majority of them will have won a Heineken Cup.

"If you look at Leinster, they have that drive to win trophies. I can't wait to play with Johnny Sexton again because he is Mr Europe and he will drive standards."

Now 32, Nacewa quit Leinster in 2013 and after a spell away from the game, he did some light coaching with his home club, Auckland Blues.

"The itch never left me, genuinely. The down time did wonders for me mentally, more so physically.

"I've learned more in the last 18 months about looking after my body than I ever did. I will see the benefits in the coming year.

"It would be ideal if every player could take a year or two off when they turn 28, get rid of all their niggles and just start off again from scratch.

"I played five full-on years with not much break and I was always about 80pc. You're never 100pc, that's a myth.

"The fact that I had heaps of time off, I do look at things differently now in terms of recovery.

"So now I feel really fresher than ever before. I'm probably in better shape than when I started my final year with Leinster."

Irish Independent

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