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Nacewa: Leinster 2009 were misfits

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'We were a bunch of misfits… it was the end of the old school era'

Isa Nacewa felt nothing but pride seeing Leinster dig in and successfully defend their Guinness PRO14 title last weekend.

The New Zealander called time last year on a playing career best remembered for his trophy-winning exploits with the Irish province. 

But he was chuffed to see how his old team reacted to their Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens, Leinster picking themselves up to beat Munster in the PRO14 semi-final before winning the final in Glasgow against the Warriors. 

“Massively important win,” he said to leinsterrugby.com. “The easy thing would have been to have dropped that game. Hell, I was part of teams that did that and it would have made for the worst summer for the lads.

“When you have got that tag on your shoulders saying you are expected to win and then you actually do, it is more of a sign of relief and it’s let’s enjoy the next week because we did it. 

“Hats off to them for picking yourselves up, dusting yourselves off, beating Munster and then having a great win at Celtic Park. Winning is winning at the end of the day and it’s what matters most.”

Now settled back in New Zealand and working outside rugby, Nacewa was back in Dublin this week to attend Leinster’s 10th anniversary celebration of their breakthrough 2009 European Cup win.  

“I don’t like to compare squads but when you compare 10 years ago to what it is now today, we were a bunch of misfits. It was the end of the old school era, if you could say that. So many characters in the team. It’s so awesome to be back and having a beer with them, which is pretty cool. 

“If you actually look back on the season as a whole we lost a crap tonne of games. I don’t know how we got through really, but we dug it out.

“The Croke Park game in 2009 (against Munster) is one of the highlights of my career… you look back and think how important that day was. It was a bit of a milestone really, so that stands out in my eyes.”

Brian O’Driscoll added: “We had to go and do it a difficult way and we managed to do it. That made it all the more satisfying, that we didn’t navigate an easy route. 

“We still had trials and tribulations to deal with, but we managed to deal with that adversity and see our way through. That stood the team in good stead for what followed.

“I honestly think it was the catalyst for what has happened in the club since then. It seems like an eternity ago but so must positive stuff has happened with trophy wins thereafter.”

WATCH: RugbyPass goes behind the scenes at the 2018 Guinness PRO14 final where Leinster beat Scarlets in Dublin

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'We were a bunch of misfits… it was the end of the old school era'