Hurling and camogie

Leinster captain Isa Nacewa to retire at end of season

Leinster's Isa Nacewa scores a try during the European Champions Cup, Pool Four match against Montpellier at the RDS Arena, Dublin on Friday January 13 2017

Captain Isa Nacewa will retire at the end of the season, Leinster have confirmed.

The 35-year-old utility back will bid to go out on a high by leading the Irish province to their fourth European title, with the Champions Cup final against Racing 92 set for May 12.

The Kiwi flyer will also hunt a Guinness PRO14 title to add to his PRO12 winner's medal, in attempting to round off a highly-decorated career in style.

Hooker Richardt Strauss will also retire this summer, with the 17-cap Ireland front-rower bowing out after eight years with the province.

"It is hard to articulate the impact that both Isa and Richardt have had on this club since their arrival," said Leinster coach Leo Cullen.

"Warriors on the pitch and wonderful men off it, they are, in my opinion, two of the best players to have ever worn the blue jersey. Their impact on this group of players will be felt for years to come."

Nacewa joined Leinster from Auckland Blues in 2008, helping the province claim their three Heineken Cup triumphs.

The Auckland-born star retired in 2013 and joined the Blues as a mental coach, only to reverse that decision and rejoin Leinster as a player in 2015.

Nacewa and Strauss will be recognised at Leinster's annual awards night on Tuesday, along with the other four players to leave the province this term.

British and Irish Lions and Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip will head that cast list, having been forced into retirement earlier in the campaign through a back injury.

Jordi Murphy will join Ulster in the summer, while Cathal Marsh and Peadar Timmins will also leave Leinster at the end of the season.

Cullen insisted it was important to mark the occasion for all those leaving, despite Leinster's clear focus still remaining on chasing silverware.

"It's a difficult one because obviously you don't want to get distracted with so much rugby still left to be played this season," said Cullen.

"But it is important that we formally recognise the impact that these six players have had on the club.

"I think this evening at the awards ball in front of their team-mates, their family and close friends is the perfect time to do that.

"Once that is done, I know they will want everyone to focus on finishing the season as strongly as possible.

"I think for them, and for the rest of us, there is no better way of finishing out the season or your time at the club than that."

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