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'Leinster the only club he'd come back to': Madigan would welcome Nacewa with open arms

The goal-kicker hailed the Aucklander as the biggest influence on his game.

LEINSTER CENTRE IAN Madigan says that Isa Nacewa would be ‘a fantastic signing’ for the province if the New Zealander were to reverse his retirement decision this year.

The mooted return of the one-cap Fiji international has gained traction again this week amid reports from The Independent’s Ruaidhri O’Connor that the versatile back will be unveiled at Clonskeagh within the coming weeks.

unnamed (1) Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

After a flawless goal-kicking display in the win over Bath, Madigan brought up the subject of Nacewa before the assembled reporters managed broach it.

This being the launch of Bank of Ireland’s Leinster Rugby summer camps, Madigan was first asked about how star power had influenced the dawn of his own career before he would be tasked with passing on the knowledge.

Fergus McFadden had been asked the same thing and revealed that he met Springbok legend Chester Williams when the McFadden family was stationed in Tanzania. Madigan though, didn’t have to travel far to come face to face with a special southern hemisphere talent.

Chester Williams and Tyrone Howe Chester Williams tracks down Tyrone Howe in 2000. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“The person who had the biggest influence on me when I was younger was probably Isa Nacewa,” said the 26-year-old utility back.

“I was lucky enough to watch him as a supporter, then he got his hands on me when I was in the academy and I was lucky enough to play with him for three season in Leinster. He is, without doubt, the person who has had the biggest impact on me.”

Asked how exactly the Kiwi influenced the Blackrock schoolboy, Madigan’s memories provided a positive outlook for the impact Nacewa could have on his second stint at Leinster, particularly if that should include a place on the coaching ticket.

Small things in training: he’d have known you were a young guy coming up through the ranks. He would have always encouraged you, anything you did slightly well, he’d be the first to pat you on the back.

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“Then when we were playing for Leinster he’d go out of his way to ask you if you want to do analysis with him. He’d tell you what you did well and encourage you if things didn’t go as well. He certainly grew my game.”

Though Madigan insisted he’s unaware of Nacewa’s plans for next season, he clearly would love to be playing alongside the smooth-running Aucklander even if he will celebrate his 33rd birthday this summer.

Ian Madigan offloads to Isa Nacewa Madigan and Nacewa in tandem in 2010 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“‘I don’t know if he is coming back or not, but we would certainly be delighted to have him back. He is 32 and his best years are still to come, there’s no doubt about that.

“I have kept in touch with him since he’s been in New Zealand. I know he is still in great shape. Leinster is the only club he’d be playing for if he did make a return to the game.

If he did decide to come back, it would be a fantastic signing for the club.”

“He epitomises exactly the culture we want in Leinster. He is the consummate professional, who goes out of his way to help the young players in the team.  When playing at the top level in the Heineken Cup it always seemed to bring out the best in him.”

Fergus McFadden and Ian Madigan helped launch the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Summer Camps in Dublin this morning. The camps will take place in 22 locations all across the province this summer. Head to LeinsterRugby.ie/camps for more information.

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Sean Farrell

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