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Thursday 8 December 2016

Gordon D'Arcy wants his Ireland jersey back for what would be a fourth World Cup

Gordon D'Arcy
Gordon D'Arcy

The only number Gordon D'Arcy will be at the World Cup to make up is twelve.

"I'm starting as far as I'm concerned," he replied, in answer to what mindset he will take this summer.

There are just four months left in the career of the decorated Leinster and Ireland inside centre. It has spanned what will be the opening stanza of an 18th season before he walks off the provincial and international stage that has seen him amass a record-making 257 caps for his province and 81 for his country.

The 35 year-old means to add to one of those; not the other. He made his intentions known to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

"I had a great conversation with Joe before I made any thought process. He told me how his only caveat was 'you are coming to fight for a place.' He doesn't want players who are coming to make the squad.

"I told him: 'that's the only way I think.'

"He said: 'grand'.

"It was the shortest conversation I've had with him.

"I am not coming to make a World Cup squad. I am not coming to make up the 31. I am coming to be number twelve for the World Cup.

"That is the way I approach everything. I am a competitive guy. We all are."

The Wexford man is hunting down a remarkable fourth World Cup with Robbie Henshaw and the versatile Ian Madigan the main obstacles in his path on the eve of Schmidt's announcement of the extended Ireland squad, believed to be in the mid-40s.

"I am under no illusions about the quality that's there," he said.

"I bring certain attributes to the table that, maybe, they don't. I have to come out and prove that."

strange

D'Arcy had been the man for so long that it must feel strange to be the one to come-from-beh ind in the Autumn of his career.

The hunted has become the hunter in a reversal of fortune.

"If anything, it refocuses you and gives you - the desire is always there - more the concentration on something you may have taken for granted.

"You need to double-check anything that will give you an edge.

"I need to be absolutely spot-on in my passing, for instance," he added.

"Even though I might be really confident in it, I might go out and do an extra 30-40 passes to make sure.

"The reason is I know I may only get one opportunity to throw that perfect pass."

It is all determined by the all-seeing eye of Schmidt.

"The main man is always watching. I've got to show him I can do it under pressure."

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