Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Insider: Leinster losing two legends in Isa and 'Straussy'

Great time for the club on the field is tinged with sadness as we prepare to say goodbye to good friends

Isa with Richardt Strauss at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Isa with Richardt Strauss at the Leinster Rugby Awards Ball. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Josh Van der Flier - Player Diary

It has been a great last week for the club with finals secured for the Champions Cup and the British and Irish Cup.

There was a good buzz around Leinster HQ last week leading up to the two semi-finals. There is always that bit of excitement and nerves for the big European weeks but the addition of the B&I Cup semi-final kept everyone on their toes.

As for both games, the senior team had one of their best performances of the season which is always encouraging at this time of year.

The 'A' team had a sensational comeback to win against Jersey as they were 19 points down in the last 10 minutes and still won by two.

All of my rugby-playing housemates were involved in that game (Adam Byrne, Peter Dooley and Tom Daly). I found it very encouraging to see Tom coming back and playing so well having suffered the same ACL knee injury as me.

This is my first diary since my injury playing for Ireland during the Six Nations and to be honest I find watching on difficult.

Isa Nacewa at training this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Isa Nacewa at training this week. Photo: Sportsfile

I don't get as nervous before the games obviously as I would if I was playing and I miss that but once the game starts there is not much you can do so you feel a bit helpless in that regard.

But I don't have much choice. I just have to sit back and enjoy the journey as a supporter for the remainder of the season.

As hard as it is watching the big games and not being on the field, it is incredible to see all the hard work throughout the year resulting in winning games.

I think the experience last year of coming close to two finals but not getting to either will help us.

Josh van der Flier in action alongside departing back-row colleague Jordi Murphy. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Josh van der Flier in action alongside departing back-row colleague Jordi Murphy. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Rehab has been going really well, so well in fact that I feel like I could be back soon... but obviously it is a longer injury than just a couple of months.

I have started running in the pool which is not quite running on the field but it feels good to be moving properly, despite being underwater.

I was told at the start of my rehab it is important to take breaks and have things to look forward to. I went for a short break to New York with my brother Johan a couple of weeks ago. I had only been there for a day before so it was cool to get to see the place and get away from rehab for a while.

I'm a big sports fan so managed to get to a baseball game and an NBA game which was incredible.

I am now back into the swing of rehab.

Trying to keep my weight up has been a struggle, a lot of people go the other way when they get injured but for me I am trying hard not to lose too much.

It is a tough balance to get between over-eating without being in full training and under-eating.

This time of year is exciting but there are also players moving on or retiring which is always sad for everyone.

You spend months and years training and spending time with these lads and it is an unfortunate part of sport that people move on to other things.

Jamie Heaslip and Jordi Murphy had already announced they were moving on but then we heard the news this week that Cathal Marsh, Peadar Timmins, Richardt Strauss and Isa Nacewa will also be leaving Leinster at the end of the season.

I played with 'Marshy' and Peadar at underage and came through the Leinster Academy the same year as Marshy. They are both great lads to have around the dressing-room and on the pitch so it will be tough to see them go but they are great lads and I know they will succeed in whatever they put their minds to.

I was also lucky to have got the chance to play with 'Straussy' and Isa. They have both been great mentors for me and role models on and off the pitch. Their ability on the pitch is obvious to anyone who saw them play but in the dressing-room and as friends they will be missed.

We saw it at the Awards Ball on Tuesday night in the InterContinental Hotel, they were almost embarrassed by the attention but that's the way they are.

They are two of the most humble people you could meet who continue to drive the standards. And I know they will do that until the end of the season.

Leinster are losing two legends but hopefully they can get the send-off they deserve with some silverware.

Irish Independent

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