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Friday 2 December 2016

D'Arcy gets four-month IRFU deal

It is understood Gordon D'Arcy has signed a four month deal with the IRFU to end his career at the World Cup.

The 35-year-old centre will be able to launch one last bid to add to his 81 international caps over the course of Ireland's four pre-tournament internationals in August and September and, thereafter, on the greatest stage.

While there is no guarantee D'Arcy will make the cut for the World Cup, his experience is seen as reason enough to secure his services.

Should D'Arcy fall short of making the original Ireland squad, he will train and play at Leinster with the prospect of being called-up on account of injury to another.

As recently as last season, the demise of D'Arcy's international career was forecasted by the rise of Luke Marshall.

The impact of injury for the Ulsterman meant the Wexford warrior started against New Zealand in November 2013 and in four of Ireland's five 2014 Six Nations matches last season.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt made the transition decision this season to pitch Robbie Henshaw in at twelve and Jared Payne at thirteen to signal the dawn of a new era.

The problem for Ireland is that Stuart Olding will miss out on the World Cup with a cruciate ligament injury and Marshall has become increasingly susceptible to concussion.

As long as D'Arcy makes the World Cup squad, it could mean he has already played his last match for Leinster in his 17th season, depending on how coach Matt O'Connor decides to finish out the season.

There is one more home appointment against Treviso next Friday night.

While the veteran of 256 Leinster caps has been mostly displaced by Ian Madigan as first-choice in the latter part of the season, there was a conscious recognition of how much he still has to offer from his appearance against Ulster last Friday.

It was his 13th start from 20 caps this season with three of them coming in the first three rounds of the pool phase of The Champions Cup.

The schoolboy wonder-kid first entered the wider public arena when he had to turn down Warren Gatland's offer of a place in Ireland's squad for the two-test tour to South Africa in June of 1998 in order to complete his Leaving Certificate.

He made his Leinster debut later that year on September 19 as a try-scoring right wing away to Llanelli Scarlets.

The initial progress was hindered by D'Arcy's immaturity in coming to terms with the heavy demands placed on him.

There was simply too much talent for that to last.

He made his Ireland debut against Romania in the November of 1999, truly came into his own as the 2004 Player of the Six Nations, won a Grand Slam in 2009 and made two British & Irish Lions tours in 2005 and 2009.

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