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Leinster legend Nacewa tells BOD how his controversial cap for Fiji ended his All Blacks ambition


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Leinster legend Isa Nacewa's been speaking to former teammate Brian O’Driscoll for Off The Ball and one of the issues he discussed was his early playing career which included a cap for Fiji which ultimately ended his dream of being an All Black.

In an interview that you will be able to watch on all our social channels, Nacewa, who recently retired from professional rugby off the back of winning the double with Leinster, said, "I was playing with Auckland versus Wellington in the NPC Final and I just got a phone call of the evening of the match, saying would you come to a World Cup with Fiji. An easy decision to make as a 20 year old. Two minute thirty-eight seconds I think it was, I ran on, missed a tackle and that was the end of the game.

"Playing for the All Blacks, it was a pipe dream, I just didn’t think I was that good. I looked at the guys who were playing in my position and thought I’m not gonna be that good and get to that level. So I flew out, I didn’t know that many players of the Fijian team, I was only there for six days."

You can listen to the exclusive interview on the podcast player below:

However, Nacewa would soon discover that brief foray on the field would have an impact later in his career.

"I got more game time in ‘04 and I had a reasonable season and we had probably the worst season Auckland had ever had at that stage but I was playing alright. It was a really poor season by Auckland standards. That’s when I got selected for the Blues in the ‘05 season," he said.

"It’s only on the eve of Super Rugby teams getting named that ineligible players got discussed and all of a sudden I’m named as an ineligible player. The process took about a year and a half, and finally we got a decision, saying ‘no, you’re capped for Fiji’, and your dream of playing for the All Blacks, there is none”. And that’s when it started playing in my mind, how long am I gonna do this, how long am I gonna play for the Auckland Blues?"

Nacewa would ultimately move to Leinster to forge a multi-European Cup winning career.

Keep an eye out on all OTB social channels for more #BODMeetsIsa over the coming days...’

Stephen Kierans


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