Sunday 15 September 2019

Leo Cullen clarifies Isa Nacewa's future as he confirms he will not replace attacking coach Girvan Dempsey at Leinster

Isa Nacewa carries the European Rugby Champions Cup Photos: Frank McGrath
Isa Nacewa carries the European Rugby Champions Cup Photos: Frank McGrath
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster coach Leo Cullen says Isa Nacewa will not replace Girvan Dempsey as the province's attack coach, but confirmed they are on the look-out for a new assistant to replace his former team-mate.

The province are also on the lookout for an overseas signing to replace their captain, with a focus on midfield, if the IRFU allow them complete a deal.

Ahead of Nacewa's last game at the RDS where Leinster host Munster in the Guinness PRO14 semi-final tomorrow, and potentially his last game of rugby if they lose, Cullen said he expects the retiring captain to return home at the end of the campaign.

"The plan is that he's going back to New Zealand at the moment, as far as I'm aware," the coach said. "We will undertake a process (regarding replacing Dempsey).

"Girv and I go back a hell of a long time. I remember I was a 19-year-old walking into the room and Mike Ruddock, Rhys' dad, was giving a presentation, he reminded me, because he was watching us train on Tuesday and Thursday this week.

"I was 19, Girv was 21 and had been around the Leinster senior team for a little bit at that stage. It's a great opportunity for Girv just to further himself and develop. He has been in Leinster his whole career and I now talking to Todd Blackadder, he's a really good individual as well.

"We will undergo a process ourselves and make sure we get somebody that can really add value to the club again.

"Girv's role in terms of what he delivers in backs and attack, a lot of our starter plays Girv takes on board the majority of that. All the start players we use, the way we defend off set-piece, etc., as well, a huge amount of the back three, counter-attacking, kicking and skills.

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"Emmet Farrell obviously helps out in that regard, but Girv's role is huge so we definitely need to fill that."

As for an overseas signing, Cullen said that the province are in the market for a player but any move would have to be approved by IRFU performance director David Nucifora.

"We're always looking for what we can add to the group," he said.

"That's an ongoing process all the time and obviously in conjunction with the union as well and making sure we get people who can add to the environment."

Cullen earlier revealed that a calf injury suffered in training cost Johnny Sexton his place on the bench for the Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Munster.

Robbie Henshaw, meanwhile, is expected to be fit in time to tour Australia with Ireland.

Rob Kearney and Dan Leavy miss out having suffered knocks in the Champions Cup final win over Racing 92, but both players - and Sexton - are expected to be fit in time for a final if Leinster can overcome their rivals.

"It means a huge amount," Cullen said. "There's a tour coming up to Australia and everyone is going to be pushing for selection for that - the ones that are qualified at least. They're special games to be part of."

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