Isa Nacewa: Change in mentality needed after last season's "utterly disappointing" European campaign

The Leinster captain speaks to Off The Ball's Dave McIntyre

BY Cian Roche 14:44 Thursday 6 October 2016, 14:44 6 Oct 2016

Leinster's disastrous Champions Cup campaign last year included home and away defeats to Aviva Premiership side Wasps and saw them finish bottom of their pool. 

While a good domestic run saw them reach the final of the Pro12, wounds continue to heal from a display that has been wholly uncharacteristic of Leinster in recent years. 

Captain Isa Nacewa says there were lessons that needed to be learned after a difficult season on the continent.

"There was a real feeling of utter disappointment," he told Off The Ball's Dave McIntyre. "I always think, there's nothing worse than losing in a semi-final but I think to make it to a final and lose it, there's a harder summer ahead of you.

"You just have to look at our Champions Cup campaign last year and it just wasn't at the level we expected from ourselves and we performed poorly. We were beaten badly twice by Wasps. That's enough motivation in itself to know that we're going up a huge level in Europe just to compete and that's been the main focus leading up to this year's campaign.

"You have to go up another level when you're playing Castres, Montpellier and Northampton in Europe. That's the mentality you have to build towards."

Leinster have started the Pro12 season strongly, with four victories from their opening five games.

"This season is the byproduct of a pretty positive off-season and an important pre-season in building the squad the squad that we have. Obviously [there has] been changes in management too and all of it seems to be heading in the right direction for us at the moment.  

"It's still a work in progress every Monday and we come in with an attitude to learn and get better, it seems to be doing really positive things for the squad."

There was a period of reflection on last season's campaign, both domestically and in Europe, with acknowledgements that to compete on both fronts standards must be raised. 

"We looked back on it and realised it wasn't just the final we played poorly in. At times we played poorly throughout the year and still scraped wins. We knew there was a huge room for improvement and I think the best thing the coaches did was to review the whole season in a very collective way. That set a clear path for us in the pre-season for us with the current group that we have. 

"You had Graham Henry there and the introduction of Stuart Lancaster. He's been nothing but positive, getting us to head in the same direction.  That led to the buy-in from the players and now we're starting to play some decent rugby."

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