Saturday 20 October 2018

We can't afford to give dangerous Scarlets a sniff - Nacewa

There are opportunities for players to impress in this block of games but you have to feel for Josh and Robbie

Isa Nacewa hopes last weekend’s defeat was just a blip. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Isa Nacewa hopes last weekend’s defeat was just a blip. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Isa Nacewa - Player Diary

A huge congrats must go to Michael Bent - or #benty100 as I'm led to believe it has been referred to on social media - for reaching 100 games for Leinster.

Benty is a hugely popular character within the Leinster environment and a damn good player and it was great to see him lead the team out in Myreside last Friday.

That was a huge positive from the trip over to Edinburgh as was the debut for Will Connors in the back-row.

Ciarán Frawley was also named on the bench for his debut but it wasn't to be for him just yet. His time will come.

It was obviously a frustrating loss to Edinburgh, and while there were positives and moments of good play, there is no getting away from Monday morning.

The review after a poor performance is always tough, but some great learnings came from the game and the challenge this week is making sure we address those issues ahead of the game tomorrow.

Michael Bent has reached the milestone of 100 games for Leinster. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Michael Bent has reached the milestone of 100 games for Leinster. Photo: SPORTSFILE

It's funny though how quickly you have to move on. With game after game in these blocks you really do have to analyse a performance but then almost as quickly park it and by midday on Monday, our focus had shifted straight to Scarlets.

They are one of the in-form teams in Europe at the moment and play some very enterprising rugby.

To top a pool containing Toulon and Bath takes some doing and they've earned themselves a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup against La Rochelle.

They also boast the second best defensive record in the PRO14 as well as having a potent attack that can punish you from anywhere on the pitch.

Robbie Henshaw is helped off the pitch having injured his shoulder against Italy. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Robbie Henshaw is helped off the pitch having injured his shoulder against Italy. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Some of us unlucky few witnessed this first hand in the PRO12 semi-final loss last season in the RDS.

It sits firmly in the front of our minds as we face the task at hand. We cannot allow them the time and the space to do their thing because when they do, there are few better teams in the league at putting sides to the sword.

But that's the challenge that faces us and I know it's one that the players are looking forward to hugely.

Before I move off Scarlets, a quick word too about Jordi Murphy who like Benty will win his 100th cap on Saturday in the RDS.

Jordi has shown huge character over the last 18 months or so to come back from his knee injury and I know the RDS supporters will acknowledge his own achievement with a warm reception. Well done, Jordi.

The Six Nations window is always a great time at Leinster HQ. There are so many opportunities up for grabs and the competition is fierce at training every day.

Young lads from the Academy know that there may be opportunities for them and they really drive the standards.

That is mirrored by what goes on in Carton House with Ireland and it is always awesome seeing our Leinster brothers getting capped during this block.

Congrats to all 18 of the fellas for getting the call-up and of course it was so good seeing Jordan Larmour running out in green.

That's one side to the Six Nations block. But there's always a selfish side of watching the Irish games where you are watching with blue-tinted glasses and you want to see the Leinster players come through the whole 80 minutes unscathed so that they can report back in a few weeks' time ready to go.

I've never been so annoyed watching Josh van der Flier go down clutching his knee, and then Robbie Henshaw (left) being helped off holding his shoulder up a week later.

You then had injuries for Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan which will hopefully be nothing more than niggles.

The injuries are tough to take but they're part of the game, unfortunately.

Josh and Robbie have been Leinster's two stand-out players so far this season.

Their commitment and work rate is unquestionable and they will be sorely missed. Fingers crossed on a speedy recovery for both of them.

But for now all our focus is back on blue and I hope to see you all at the RDS tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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