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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Glasgow tried to convince Nakarawa not to offload against Munster, it did not work

The man’s unstoppable.

THE STAR OF the show in Glasgow Warriors’ wanton destruction of the Munster defence yesterday was given specific instructions not to deliver his party trick.

Leone Nakarawa has been a sensational addition to Gregor Townsend’s artillery and the Fijian lock has developed a habit of making extraordinary skills look ordinary during his time in Scotland.

Leone Nakarawa and Ian Keatley Nakarawa leaves Keatley trailing in his wake. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

However, in the lead up to yesterday’s Guinness Pro12 final win over Munster in Belfast, Townsend and captain Al Kellock were making concerted efforts to rein in Nakarawa’s flamboyant instincts.

“Big Naksy, I’ve spoken to him so much over the last couple of weeks,” says Kellock of the man who edged him out of the starting line-up for his final game in rugby.

“One of the key messages we’ve been hammering home to him is just ‘carry hard,’ make three or four of them [defenders] put you down… and then he offloads and we score two tries!”

Nakarawa was unplayable at times for Munster’s defence. His first assist of the day was a devastating display of brute force combined with a soft touch and it was that effort that really drew the plaudits of his coach, albeit after he got a light-hearted scolding for not going to ground with the ball.

I told him I’d be happy if he didn’t offload,” Townsend explained.

“He had four carries in the 15 phases when we scored the try [against Ulster] and that was the big thing for him, just: ‘go forward, go forward. They’ll be targeting your offloads. I’ll be happy if you don’t offload, that means you’ll just be carrying’.

“’If you do get a one-on-one, then you’re still a brilliant offloader.’

“Fortunately he ignored his coach’s advice. The thing about Leone’s offload is that he puts the ball to where it’s best suited to a player. He puts it on a plate, he doesn’t just throw it there.

Leone Nakarawa and Duncan Williams Munster had major difficulties bringing Nakarawa to deck. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“That’s a skill and it’s very hard to do. He was under a bit of pressure and he laid that up for Rob Harley to say, ‘come and catch me’. His offload out of the other hand to DTH created the other try.

“It’s great to see him delivering,”

Pondering a little longer on ‘Big Naksy’, Kellock offered up sincere praise for his Fijian friend before ending with a chalk-dry delivery of a joke at nobody’s expense but his own.

He’s a special player, you see him out there and he’s the best player on the park by a mile… I suppose that justifies Gregor’s decision to pick him.

“We’ve all got our roles to play.”

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Sean Farrell

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