Thursday 22 March 2018

Leinster vow to fight IRFU in bid to keep Nacewa

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

LEINSTER are prepared to fight the IRFU on their player succession strategy in order to hold on to Isa Nacewa.

The in-form New Zealander expressed a desire to finish out his career with the European champions at the weekend, saying that he considers Ireland to be his home, as his daughters were born here.

His contract expires at the end of next season, but he may have to move on due to the strategy which is planned to be in place by then.

The plan states that non-Irish qualified players cannot be kept on at the end of their contracts and that they must be replaced by an Irish player.


But Leinster manager Guy Easterby yesterday said the province want the union to make an exception for Nacewa and revealed that the guidelines can be loosened.

"We'd love Isa to stay here for as long as he wants to stay," he said.

"He's not just a fantastic player, he's a fantastic person. He's just the type of person you'd want in your squad. If he's keen to stay we'd like to keep him.

"If he wants to stay, we'd be stupid not to fight to make that happen.

"It's the same with Johann Muller up north or Doug Howlett (at Munster) -- there's arguments for a lot of those top-class international players. You don't bring them over just for what they can do as a player, but what they can do outside of the playing side."

The succession strategy didn't go down well with the provinces, but after discussions between the two parties, it appears that a workaround could be reached.

"We're in discussions with the IRFU about how it will work and hopefully those will come to some end in the near future and we'll have something to move forward with," added Easterby.

"In its basic format the plan is on the table, but they're also willing to sit down and talk about how it will work on a day-to-day basis and how it will function throughout the season.

"They've said they'd be happy to talk it through with us."

Leinster take on Glasgow on Saturday and Luke Fitzgerald could yet play a part after he and Andrew Conway stepped up their rehabilitation in training yesterday.

Easterby remains hopeful that Fitzgerald will commit his future to the province, with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

"We'd love Luke to be here and the IRFU want Luke to be here so it's a matter of them negotiating and hopefully coming to a deal," he said.

"Luke's from Leinster, he's been involved in the squad since he was 18.

"He's 24 now and there's a hell of a lot of rugby left in him and we certainly hope he's playing that here."

Irish Independent

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