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Isa Nacewa: The expression on James Tracy's face is all the motivation Leinster could need

“With so many young guys coming in it’s been bloody exciting this week”.

IT’S A LITTLE over three years since hooker James Tracy made his debut for his native province.

James Tracy and Cian Kelleher James Tracy gives Cian Kelleher a spin. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That day in November 2012, the Newbridge College man got three minutes at the tail end of Leinster’s loss away to Ospreys. Since then, he has had to content himself with being a back-up to Sean Cronin and Richardt Strauss, accruing nine more replacement appearances and one start in the intervening 38 months before being rewarded with the number two jersey for tomorrow’s Champions Cup meeting at home to Bath (17.30).

At 24, Tracy is the oldest of six Leinster players making their full European debut tomorrow. And his captain Isa Nacewa made sure that the long patient wait wouldn’t go unnoticed.

“James Tracy has done a lot of hard yards in travelling to away games,” says the influential utility back.

To see him and the expression on his face coming to training knowing he’s starting in a European game is good to see. You look at Ross Molony and Peter Dooley too, these guys have been pumped from the start of the week for this opportunity and that’s all the motivation you need.”

While making an effort to put the new faces in the spotlight, Nacewa will be demanding that his more experienced team-mates do the opposite when the battle-hardened Bath come to the RDS still believing they can make the Champions Cup quarter-finals. The Kiwi, along with fellow old heads like Zane Kirchner, Mike McCarthy and Ben Te’o, will attempt to alleviate as much pressure as possible from the younger shoulders.

‘A little bit extra’

“We’ve been harping on all week, it’s just about them doing their job. We’re not asking for anything more than that.

“The guys around them have to do that little bit extra to give them that armchair ride which they should expect on debut. It’s about them going out to do their own job and do it as well as possible.”

Isa Nacewa Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

You would expect nothing less than absolute commitment from Nacewa no matter what the occasion. But even so, it’s impressive to hear him talk about this dead rubber of a fixture like he’s ready to fire with live rounds.

“It’s not hard,” he responded quickly when asked how he motivated his team.

There’s so much competition within the squad that just being out there in the 23 is a luxury. We aim every week to get up, and with so many young guys coming in it’s been bloody exciting this week.

“We’ve built over the last few weeks and I think we’re a different team to what we were pre-Christmas away to Bath. It’s not hard at all to get up and we’re glad to be back in the RDS for a European fixture.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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