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Five things we learned when Brian O'Driscoll spoke to Isa Nacewa


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Brian O'Driscoll and Isa Nacewa met up for an in-depth chat as Nacewa prepares for a new chapter in his life after helping Leinster to a fourth European trophy. 

We learned a thing or two from the chat between the two former Leinster team-mates as they reminisced about life on and off the rugby field.

1. Isa and Sexton: Good cop, bad cop

Nacewa and Jonathan Sexton forged a potent partnership within the Leinster team as he told BOD.

"Me and Johnny, we often bounce off each other as good cop and bad cop. He's quite vocal where I smooth the edges from behind the scenes and we work well together," said Nacewa.

"We have to work in tandem. He laughs when he's involved and he sees me barking orders and being bad cop. So it's all part of the shape of good leadership. You've got to cover all bases. Do we plan it? Probably not. It just happens naturally."  

Leinster's Isa Nacewa and Jonathan Sexton celebrate with the European Rugby Champions Cup trophy ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

2. Culture shock

Nacewa initially left Leinster in 2013 after a successful five year spell, before returning in 2015 for his second three-year call of duty with the province. The culture had changed in between as he discussed with Brian.

"It was definitely a different environment," he said of that period as he returned. 

"By the time I got back here, I can't put my finger on why the culture wasn't good. But there was a lot of change in the month that I got back here. Matt O'Connor departing, Leo [Cullen] stepping up into the top role, Gerv [Dempsey] coming on board. It was a lot of change for one moment in time." 

3. Isa and the All Blacks

Nacewa was unable to play for the All Blacks after being made ineligible having played for Fiji for just two minutes.

"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," he told BOD.

"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?" 

Leinster's Isa Nacewa lifts the 2018 Champions Cup trophy ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

4. Retiring and returning

When discussing his plans to retire and move back to New Zealand with a year left on his Leinster contract back in 2013, Isa revealed that he arrived at the decision to be closer to his family.

"It's tough being away from the family network," he said of that period.

"I remember when one of [the twins] got sick. Then after she got better, she went through this stage where I would leave the house and she's screaming.

"And I would go to training and come back and she was in the same spot screaming. All kids at the toddler age go through it. But it was all new to us and those times are when you sort of wish you had family members around." 

5. Versatility is key
 
The New Zealander has played every position in the Leinster back-line, including scrum-half, even managing to score a try from 9.
 
While he is often described as a utility back, the original plan when he came to Ireland in 2008 was to act as Felipe Contepomi's understudy. But that was before the emergence of Johnny Sexton.
 
But as he's matured, he's grown to prefer playing 12, joking that it's because "you move far more slowly". 


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