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'I hope so': Cullen upbeat about Nacewa's chances of playing in Pro14 final

The Leinster captain bid farewell to the RDS this afternoon, but will hope for one final appearance in blue next weekend.

Nacewa was cheered off the field by his team-mates after the game.
Nacewa was cheered off the field by his team-mates after the game.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from the RDS

LEO CULLEN IS hopeful Isa Nacewa will be able to shake off a troublesome calf injury in time for next week’s Guinness Pro14 final, and get the opportunity to pull on the Leinster jersey one final time.

The Leinster captain was forced off at half-time of this afternoon’s semi-final win over Munster having not trained all week because of the injury he sustained in Bilbao seven days ago.

Nacewa went for a scan last Monday and despite being ‘compromised physically’ during the week was deemed fit enough to start in midfield alongside Garry Ringrose in a fierce inter-pro derby.

The 35-year-old was typically combative in defence and made five tackles during his 40-minute cameo, before being replaced by Rory O’Loughlin at the interval.

Speaking after the 16-15 victory, Cullen issued an update on Nacewa’s fitness: “Isa was struggling to train during the week so to get through 40 minutes the way he did was a real testament to him.

“It’s hard to speak highly enough about the guy. He’s been amazing and I thought he led the team well this week, even though he was compromised physically. He got through the 40 minutes, we weren’t sure how long he would last, but we were fairly sure he wouldn’t last past half-time.

“We made a call, Rory had trained there during the week. Isa is at a different level to anyone who I’ve come across before.”

The Leinster head coach added that the medical team will see how Nacewa — who received a huge ovation from a sold-out RDS at full-time — comes through the next few days before making a call on his availability for Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium next week.

“I hope so,” Cullen said, when asked if the retiring back will get the chance to end his career on the pitch.

“We’ll see how he comes through the next few days. Guys are sore in there, it was a physical game for both teams. Munster lost a few guys as well and that’s what these games are all about, that’s why people turn up and that’s what separates them from everything else.

“It’s a real testament to both sets of players and the show they put on.”

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Ryan Bailey

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