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Nacewa keen to learn from Euro horror and keep lid on emotions

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Isa Nacewa has plenty of regrets about losing to Clermont Auvergne in the Champions Cup semi-final in Lyon last month and his own role in the defeat.

There haven't been too many mis-steps from the Aucklander during his storied Leinster career, but his pumped-up approach to the first 10 minutes saw him go over the top and make uncharacteristic errors that cost his team, summed up by a yellow card he now describes as "dumb" for a tug on David Strettle's shirt.

The Leinster captain has plenty of credit in the bank and has led by example all season, so fans will forgive him a rare off-day - but he is determined to avoid a repeat when his side return to the semi-final stage next week when they welcome Scarlets to the RDS for the Guinness PRO12 play-offs.

"It is tough standing on the halfway in Lyon in a huddle, knowing you've just fallen short of making it to the final," he reflected. "I've found it worse losing in a semi-final than a final.

"But it was a pretty tight huddle out there. We had to take learnings from that game to really kick on. The guys that played, and even the guys that didn't, will have been hurting. We don't want that feeling again."

Nacewa reckons Leinster will look to temper their build-up in an attempt to avoid arriving overly revved up at kick-off this time around.

"Maybe blocking the emotion out and focusing on your own performance could have done us better at the start," he replied when asked if there was anything he had learnt. "Not getting a dumb yellow might have helped.

"It is about your performance. We didn't start well against Clermont and that is one thing we have to remedy.

"We compounded error upon error and let them into the game. By half-time, we hadn't actually played much. We realised that and we went back to focusing on what we could control.

"We played our brand of rugby and it got us right back into the game. The learnings from that is to focus on our own performance and how we address certain areas of the game early on."

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