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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 18 June, 2018

Nacewa cherishes special moment of cup triumph before final Leinster game

The New Zealander was instrumental in his side’s cup win at the RDS.

Isa Nacewa kisses the Amlin Cup after Leinster's win.
Isa Nacewa kisses the Amlin Cup after Leinster's win.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

ISA NACEWA PAID tribute to the selfless nature of his Leinster teammates but declared the ‘one more year chants’, which rang out around the RDS for him during his side’s 34-13 victory, have not changed his mind to retire from rugby.

Nacewa was at his consistent, excellent best last night as he shone in attack and defence, kicked intelligently and was supreme in the air. He played a vital role in two of Leinster’s first three tries — breaking up the centre ahead of Ian Madigan’s score and offloading for Rob Kearney’s try after collecting a Jonny Sexton crossfield kick.

Speaking in the post-match briefing, Leinster coach Joe Schmidt conceded defeat in his efforts to convince the New Zealander to stay on at the province. Schmidt suggested that fans should move heaven and earth to secure a ticket for next weekend’s Pro12 Grand Final against Ulster so they could catch Nacewa in action for a final time.

The 30-year-old was given the honour of lifting the Amlin Challenge Cup, following the win over Stade Francais. He thrust the trophy into the night sky, with Jonny Sexton by his side. Nacewa told

It felt very special. That’s the type of guy that Leo [Cullen] is. It was pretty special to lift it with Jonny too; I’ve had the best time ever playing with him, he’s a born leader and Leinster are going to sorely miss him.”

The Sexton kick, pouched by a soaring Nacewa before he set up Kearney to dive over, is a move than Leinster supporters are well used to and yet it took Stade Francais by complete surprise. He paid tribute for the outhalf’s ability to pick his spot from 30 metres away ‘so I never break my stride’. Was the fullback’s swan dive completely necessary? “Definitely,” replied Nacewa, “he needed to dive in there.”

He thanked the unbelievable Leinster support for the ‘one more year’ chants that reverberated around the ground. The Auckland native said, “It is pretty special finishing my last two games in professional rugby at the RDS… I just play it week by week and try to block [thoughts of leaving] out as I don’t need emotions taking over.”

He added, “There will be plenty of time to reminisce but, right now, I’ll try to block the emotions out.”

As it happened: Leinster v Stade Francais, Amlin Challenge Cup Final

‘Myself and Leo thought it was fitting for the lads to lift the cup’ – Jamie Heaslip

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Patrick McCarry

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