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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 16 May 2021

'It should be easier second time round': Nacewa bids emotional farewell in open letter to Leinster

Isa, Isa, Isa…

Isa Nacewa Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A DECADE ON from his arrival in Ireland, Isa Nacewa has written a heartfelt message as he retires – for good this time – and returns home.

The Aucklander has been present for all four of Leinster’s European Cup wins, winning three before retiring in 2013.

Since picking his boots back off the peg in 2015, Nacewa has shown no evidence of a diminished influence, elected captain by his Leinster team-mates and leading the return to the peak of European rugby before ultimately providing the winning score in the Champions Cup win over Racing 92 in Bilbao.

“It should be easier second time round, you would think, to write these words or to put some shape on what I am feeling as I head into the last few weeks of my time in Dublin,” Nacewa writes on (you can read the full version here).

“I’ve done this before after all. Said my goodbyes, packed my things and headed home, not knowing what lay ahead but certainly with no immediate thoughts of a return to the blue jersey on the horizon.

“But this is different. This is it.”

Among the thank yous – to his wife Simone, his mother and father, to Leinster’s fans and to Matt O’Connor for taking ‘a punt on a retiree in Auckland’ – Nacewa’s love of the province as a rugby entity shines through. By charting a line from losses to Munster (Magners final 2011), Connacht (Pro12 final 2016) and Clermont (Champions Cup semi-final 2017) he calls on fans to remain supportive of the team’s efforts when trophies are not as plentiful as they have been this season.

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Isa Nacewa Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Because there have to be down days, and there will again,” says Nacewa.

“You are supporting a head coach in Leo Cullen that is Leinster Rugby.

“Remember that.”

Memory is at the heart of why Nacewa will now pack his bags and leave Leinster a second time. As much affection as he holds for the club and the place he has made his home with his four daughters, it’s just not home.

So, why are we leaving?

There is a sign in the RDS tunnel as you walk out that signifies what it means to pull on that jersey and it’s the last thing you see before you walk out into the cauldron of brilliant blue.

It says Ár mBaile, Ár Muintir which translates as Our Home, Our People.

“And that’s where we are going. Back to our home and to our people.”

Isa Nacewa celebrates with his daughters Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

And Irish rugby will be poorer for his absence.

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Sean Farrell

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