Thursday 22 February 2018

Isa Nacewa: Listening to Kevin McLaughlin makes you appreciate what you have

Listening to Kevin McLaughlin makes you appreciate what you have - it can be gone in an instant

'Being back home in the RDS again is what it’s all about' says Isa Nacewa
'Being back home in the RDS again is what it’s all about' says Isa Nacewa
Soon to be retiring: captain Kevin McLaughlin
Ross Molony was one of the standout young guns on display against Cardiff

Isa Nacewa

With a first win under our belts it certainly feels now that - finally - our season has gotten under way properly. But before I get into that a few housekeeping issues!

Firstly, a big congratulations to Mike McCarthy and his wife Jessica on the birth of their first child. His nickname "Dad" is now quite appropriate as they welcomed a beautiful baby girl. And she certainly timed her arrival to perfection, waiting until just after the Cardiff game to make her entrance!

Secondly, ever since I made my decision to come back to Leinster the thought of running out at the RDS has been bubbling away and that sense of anticipation grew as the weeks went on. Yes, it was great being on the road and meeting the fans at the open training sessions.

Yes, it was great to finally pull on that jersey away to Edinburgh. But running out at the RDS again was special. I have likened it to being back home. Well, being back home in the RDS is what it's all about and thanks to every one of you for making the effort and for supporting us as we went in search of a performance and a first W of the season.

While the above two pieces of news brought great happiness, both collectively and personally, the news this week that our captain Kevin McLaughlin was retiring took the wind out of our sails completely.

The shock announcement from Kev on Monday morning that he was retiring immediately was hard to hear.

Kev has been an ever present during my time here so I have seen a fair bit of him and know what he's about. From my first day here at Leinster back in July 2008 until today, to me Kev is what epitomises a T.P. - a 'True Professional'.

Everything and anything Kev was working towards was with a 'team-first' mindset. His captaincy and leadership alone over the past 10 weeks highlights what type of Leinster man Kev is.

He will be missed hugely on a personal level but also amongst the collective. You just don't replace a man like that overnight. Leo put it very well when he said that his impact went beyond his 115 caps and his medals.

And it does. He drove everyone in here and the best way to carry his legacy is to keep those standards high and to keep driving as Kev would.

It certainly hammered home just how ruthless professional sport can be, but this is the right decision for Kev. That doesn't make it any easier and it's good to see that he will still stay involved over the coming months.

I know that I echo the views of everyone at Leinster and supporters when I wish Kev, and his wife Kate, the very best of luck with his and their future.

Back to matters on the pitch, as I said it was great to see all the familiar faces and supporters that make it to the RDS in rain, hail, or shine. Luckily, it was shining against Cardiff and we got a well-deserved win which made the mini-break last week a whole lot easier.

It's been a funny start. You get the win and feel that you are getting started . . . but then two weekends off! It's an unusual feeling and start to the season. This Rugby World Cup period has its challenges and that's definitely one.

It's an encouraging sight though coming into Leinster during our down week and seeing so many of the younger players doing extras, video analysis, conditioning work. All the hard yards the younger players have put in during the pre-season was on display against Cardiff. Garry Ringrose and Ross Molony were both stand-outs in my eyes.

At least the World Cup has finally kicked off. The talk around Leinster this week was how sharp Ireland looked against Canada, but an even bigger talking point was the shock upset of Japan beating the powerhouse South Africa. I guess we were all surprised at how well they played and the determination they had to not settle for a draw and chase a win!

But for Leo and the coaches it has been a great opportunity to put us all through some hard yards and detail with the Dragons in the forefront of our minds. Everyone wants to be involved and once again every player is pushing as hard as he can to impress. We lost to the Dragons twice last season so this is a massive game next Saturday.

Irish Independent

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