Experienced Nacewa unfazed by the scale of the challenge
Old friends, old enemies, Isa? “For sure. Done everything we can to avoid them, we end up in their pool. It’s a good little challenge. All class players, its going to be a tough ask.”
The endless talk of pivotal influences; Rocky Elsom; Brad Thorn. Nacewa has been Leinster’s most valuable overseas player. Fullback, outhalf, winger, centre. The completeness of his game can make a bit of a drifter of him as he switches shirts.
But seasoned now and part of the scenery at the RDS, Nacewa has been far more than the utility Fijian in the Leinster backline and more a constant mark of quality in a squad that must answer to two masters, club and country.
Ironically, he could have signed for Clermont Auvergne when Joe Schmidt was in charge there prior to moving to Dublin.
“That was a long time ago,” he recalls. “Joe just rang me up while he was coach there and I just had thoughts about it. That’s all it really was, thoughts. I liked the way Joe was coaching after time with the Blues. It was a thought but I turned it down and came to Leinster instead . . . ”
Now it’s Clermont on his mind although Nacewa’s face betrays little sign of anxiety. Everyone understands Clermont have a squad that comprises two sets of international players.
But Leinster players have been through these weeks too often before to sweat the build up. The 30-year-old carries a lightness and a carefree so-what attitude to the heavy hitters in the mountains.
“Fifty matches (unbeaten at home). It’s a tough place to go, Awesome support, awesome crowd. They’re the strongest team on paper, so many international caps and it’s going to be a big one. What they call their second string side still has hundreds of international caps each week. This is a one -off game as a rugby player you get to play.”
Nacewa understands that Clermont emphasise their forward play because last time as they camped in Leinster’s red zone, he stood and watched as the low numbers butted heads, waiting for the ball to go wide. But it never happened. He knows too that Leinster’s publicly declared weapon is Schmidt himself.
“It’s like having an extra player on our side,” he says about the coach. “It comes from his time at Clermont. He has knowledge of the players involved.”
Last time out Leinster got stuck in their 22 with the forwards defending phase upon phase. It was all lungs and heart. Schmidt can’t teach that but it’s where the winning of the game lies.
“With the likes of Cudmore and Nathan Hines and their frontrow they (Leinster forwards) are going to be up against it,” he says. “A lot of credit comes down to our forwards and what they did in the last 15 minutes.”
Spoken like a man content to be a fullback, or wing, or...
Cave extends stay New two-year deal
Ulster centre Darren Cave, has agreed a new two-year contract with the province that will see him remain at Ravenhill until the summer of 2015.
The 25-year-old, a former Sullivan Upper pupil, has won three caps for Ireland, the most recent of which was an appearance off the bench against the All Blacks in last summer’s tour of New Zealand.
He also started the recent non-cap international against Fiji and scored a try in the 53-0 win.