Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# make or break
'It wasn't good enough' - Nacewa dismisses talk of Leinster RWC hangovers
The Leinster captain says this weekend in Bath is a must-win game.

LEINSTER CAPTAIN ISA Nacewa says his side can’t keep using excuses about World Cup hangovers and re-integrating players as they face a pivotal Champions Cup clash with Bath on Saturday.

Isa Nacewa Dan Sheridan / INPHO Nacewa was speaking at the Life Style Sports International Online Delivery Event. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The 33-year-old underlined that Leinster’s performance on home soil against Wasps last Sunday simply wasn’t good enough, and underlined that this weekend’s clash with Bath is a make-or-break fixture for the province.

Nacewa missed the harrowing 33-6 defeat to Wasps at the RDS after being withdrawn from the team at a late stage due to a knee issue.

Nacewa says his knee is “looking good, really good” and feels he is on track to feature against Mike Ford’s side at The Rec on Saturday as Leinster look to keep their European campaign alive.

“It has just been such a muddled couple of weeks and getting guys back in that even for the coaches and us players we need to find that continuity and find it very quickly,” said Nacewa yesterday.

We can’t keep using excuses of World Cup hangovers and integrating players back in. The reality is we won’t have second chances after this week. We all just have to get some continuity and perform.”

Nacewa pointed to Leinster being “caught off guard physically” as one of the most disappointing factors of last weekend’s defeat to an energetic Wasps side, while also underlining uncharacteristic errors from experienced players.

The likes of Johnny Sexton, Eoin Reddan, Jamie Heaslip, Mike Ross, Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin and several other Ireland internationals underperformed for Leo Cullen’s side, but Nacewa insisted that any talk of World Cup hangovers is wide of the mark.

“Every player is different,” said Nacewa. “They have all come back in different head spaces; guys that did play and guys that didn’t play. All of them have got over it differently.”

Isa Nacewa Maurilio Boldrini / INPHO Nacewa's form was strong before his knee injury. Maurilio Boldrini / INPHO / INPHO

Last weekend was Cullen’s European debut as a head coach and Nacewa felt that his side fell well short of the standards they have built for themselves under the former second row.

“It’s probably the manner in which we lost that is most concerning. Leo would have been hurting himself. He got everyone to take a good, hard look at themselves in the changing room.

Leo had some good harsh words for the group. We addressed it as a group because that’s what we are and rightly so. It was the right message for the time.”

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Nacewa says he genuinely believes the standards at Leinster are higher than when he left the province to retire in 2013, and it seems certain that he has only added to the demands on the players.

Other sides have lost two European pool games and still advanced into the knock-out stages, but Nacewa says this Bath clash is make-or-break..

“We can’t look any more forward than this week,” said Nacewa. “It is a must-win game, there’s no other ‘if’ or ‘but’ about it. We’ve got to go to Bath and we’ve got to step up and do the job.”

Life Style Sports, official sponsor of Connacht Rugby and retail partner to Leinster and Munster Rugby, today launched its international online delivery service. On hand to help launch this unique service that will see rugby jerseys and associated apparel delivered to over 200 countries worldwide were Munster’s Mark Chisholm, Leinster’s Isa Nacewa and Connacht’s Quinn Roux.

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