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Q & A with Leinster centre and captain Isa Nacewa

Paul Eddison

25 Oct 2017

Leinster captain Isa Nacewa reveals why Jonathan Davies is such a tough opponent and who has taken Zane Kirchner spot as Leinster’s top dancer.

Who’s the toughest player you have played against in the Guinness PRO14?

I’d probably go for Jonathan Davies in recent times and he deserves all the accolades he’s getting at the moment. His reading of the game and what he does on attack is absolutely superb and he’s a tough player. He’s been outstanding and I really respect the way he plays the game. His timing, he has a lot of time on the ball and he’s got more pace than people give him credit for so he really complements teams well.

Who’s the hardest trainer at Leinster?

One of the hardest trainers would be Rhys Ruddock, he’d be right up there. In the gym, on the paddock, he doesn’t really have an off switch. He can do things at a really high intensity all the time. Fergus McFadden would be one of the best trainers that I’ve ever played with. His strength, his endurance and everything you do. He’d be a great cross-fitter. Josh van der Flier is insanely fit, and doesn’t have an off-switch like Rhys. Luke McGrath and Jamison Gibson-Park as well, they run more Ks week in, week out than any other player.

Who’s last to put their hand in their pocket on a night out?

Richardt Strauss, no question. He has some deep pockets and often can’t find his money and wallet. And that’s when you do get him out. He’ll find the cheap coffee too.

Who’s first on the dancefloor?

That used to be Zane Kirchner. Now it would probably be Cian Healy. He does his DJ stuff, he knows how to breakdance, he knows all the moves. He pulls it out when he needs to.

Who’s in charge of the tunes in the changing room?

It’s more like which young guy has the tunes for the day. Lately it’s been Joey Carbery and Jamison Gibson-Park. If you want an older singalong tune on a Friday afternoon you go for Fergus McFadden, he’ll throw on some 90s music when some of the guys weren’t even born yet. Andrew Porter likes his mix so there’s a few good playlists about.

Tell us about your first try as a pro.

We’re going back 14 years. I’m not sure if I can remember that one. My first try for Leinster was in the first round game against Cardiff back in 2008. It was in the old Cardiff Arms Park when it was still grass. Rob Kearney put up a high ball and they let it bounce. It bounced into the hands of Malcolm O’Kelly, he passed me the ball on the inside and I only had to trot to the line. Shane Jennings was screaming for the ball inside me. We ended up drawing the game 15-15 if I remember correctly. I started at 15 at that game and finished at ten.

What does it say about the Guinness PRO14 that the last few champions all play an attacking brand of rugby?

It’s such a good advertisement for rugby because the coaches involved in the teams like to play attacking rugby. It’s great for the competition and it’s great for the viewers. Scarlets were class last year, Glasgow and the way they play as well, so it’s just a great competition to be a part of.

Which player in the Guinness PRO14 would you least like to meet in a dark alley?

I’ll go with Nick Williams from Cardiff. He’d be an intimidating sight in a dark alley. He always has a smile on his face but you never know what’s going to come. You see his eyes open wide when he gets a five-metre scrum on attacking ball and you know what’s coming. He’s immense and has played that way his whole career.

Other than Leinster, who is the team to watch out for in the Guinness PRO14?

Everyone has to be wary of the Glasgow Warriors under Dave Rennie. The wealth of experience with ten years of ITM Cup and then winning Super Rugby with the Chiefs, and the style he brought to the Chiefs, he’s in charge of a great squad that love playing attacking rugby. They are going to be a big challenger.

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