Sunday 15 September 2019

'He will leave an unbelievable hole in the club' - Leo Cullen pays tribute to departing captain Nacewa

Isa Nacewa after last weekend’s game in the RDS. Photo: Sportsfile
Isa Nacewa after last weekend’s game in the RDS. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

LEINSTER coach Leo Cullen has said that retiring Kiwi legend Isa Nacewa will leave an 'unbelievable' hole in the province as he prepares to captain the side for the last time in their quest to win an historic double.

Nacewa joked that he 'hopes to play more than 40 minutes' this week after struggling with calf issues in the semi-final win against Munster last weekend as he seeks to sign off on a winning note by adding a Guinness PRO 14 title to the Champions Cup crown annexed in Bilbao earlier this month.

"You guys see what he delivers on the field and how he leads by example," said Cullen. "But that is what we see every day.

"He will leave an unbelievable hole in the club. I feel very lucky and the club should feel very lucky that they have had him as long as they have had. I just hope the guys go out and perform, put on a good show for him tomorrow.

"Isa did well to get through 40 minutes last week so we don't have to manage him for anything beyond tomorrow, that I know of! It's great to have him back again for this game."

Cullen captained Leinster in 2011 and 2012 when they fell short in successive finals in attempts to add a domestic title to their European title and Nacewa has warned his side that it could be a long summer should they do so again.

"It makes for a long summer...I remember the games we have lost in the past when we have been in a position and we have fallen short," 

"It just sticks around for a long time. We have worked hard to get to this point and to have this opportunity now. With this group, it would be really special. We have talked about that at the right times this year and in the last week and it would be pretty special for this group."

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