Isa Nacewa discusses his first season back at Leinster and his role as a mentor for younger players within the squad.

Along with the news earlier this week that Robbie Henshaw and Ian Nagle would be joining Leinster next season came confirmation of 17 contract renewals.

One of the 17 was Leinster captain Isa Nacewa, who returned to the province in 2015 after announcing his retirement from playing rugby at the end of the 2012/13 season.

Nacewa spent time coaching with the Auckland Blues, but, just over two years after his retirement was announced, it was confirmed he would return to Leinster.

In this first season back, Nacewa currently leads the Leinster try-scoring charts with six and has scored more points than any other player with 60 in 14 appearances.

Isa Nacewa

“It’s like I never left,” says Nacewa on his return to Leinster, during a visit to Tallaght Hospital to see the work being done in the Centre for Cardiac Risk in Younger Persons.

“It’s just a whole bunch of new guys, really. It’s great to have a fresh voice in Leo (Cullen) and Girv (Girvan Dempsey), and Kurt (McQuilkin) back, and then you’ve got John Fogarty looking after the forwards. It’s such a great environment with those fresh voices.”

READ: Leo and Isa visit Centre for Cardiac Risk in Younger Persons

As captain and one of the senior players in the squad Nacewa also enjoys the opportunity to mentor younger players and be a source of advice should it be needed.

“It’s just part and parcel of being around a long time,” Nacewa says of his role within the squad. “It’s sort of a mentor role more than just lead by example. You help out when you can.”

Nick McCarthy Isa Nacewa

While he may act as a mentor for those younger players, Nacewa is quick to point out that he is competing for a place in the starting XV just like anyone else and stresses the importance of driving competition for places.

“I’m pushing for a starting spot just like any of the young guys and that’s the sort of competition we have to generate.”

Now that it has been confirmed that his Leinster return has been extended into 2016/17 the focus is firmly on the remaining games in the Guinness PRO12 over the next three months and securing a place in the play-offs.

“This is one of the most critical parts of the season. It’s about getting the win first and foremost – that’s it. Anything above that is great, but the table is tight and every point does make a difference here on out. One dropped game here, another dropped game there, and all of a sudden the whole top of the table changes.”

There are just four regular season home games to go! Be there to support Leinster in the race for the Guinness PRO12 play-offs.