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Wednesday 19 September 2018

D'Arcy: I love the pressure coming on me

UP FOR THE CHALLENGE: Gordon D’Arcy returns to the centre for Ireland against New Zealand tomorrow
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE: Gordon D’Arcy returns to the centre for Ireland against New Zealand tomorrow

The former Ireland wing was where Gordon D'Arcy is now – much closer to the end of his career than the start.

"Life just does not keep giving you chances."

– Denis Hickie, March 17, 2007

 

"Yeah, you know, Denis Hickie spoke before the Italy game when we lost the Six Nations by a try under Eddie O'Sullivan.

"He talked very passionately about how life just does not keep giving you second chances. You literally have to take them when they come around.

"It was obvious that in his head he knew he was coming towards the end of his career.

"He was making the decision that he was going to be going out pretty soon and it obviously came out that day," D'Arcy said.

It is not just 'father time' calling D'Arcy. He has also been made fully aware of the emergence of Ulster's Luke Marshall: "I'm just fighting for air.

"There's a guy who is incredibly talented there who isn't even right behind me, he's right on my shoulder.

"So keeping my edge is my focus now rather than worrying about the mortality of when I finish. That's going to happen.

 

PRESSURE

"I've got my start this week and I literally have to do everything I can do. That's pressure on myself but I love putting pressure on myself to deliver."

The decision of coach Joe Schmidt to go for Marshall ahead of him against Australia came like an unforecasted wind blowing right through him.

For the first time in a long time, he has real, menacing competition. "Last week does give you a real sense, though, that I'm going to have to fight for every game that I play," D'Arcy said.

"And if I get picked for any games from here on in, I'll know that I've earned them. But I will have to earn them every time. There are no second chances from here on in."

He knows it is not good enough to talk the talk. Last week, he had to walk the walk, in terms of playing second fiddle to Marshall.

"You always hear players talk about it being the guys who don't make the weekend that can dictate a lot of things," he added.

"When you are not that guy, more often than not, it is very easy for you to say that. But, to put it into action can be a bit of a test."

The Wexford centre is doing for others what was done for him as part of the enduring legacy of wearing an Irish jersey with the respect for those who have gone before and those who will come after him.

"I would always be a big believer, because it happened to me as a kid, that the older guys help the younger guys," D'Arcy recalled.

"When I first came into the squad (1999), I was walking around thinking 'I have no idea what I'm doing here' and Conor O'Shea came over, brought me for lunch, brought me for kicking practice, did all these little things with me.

 

BRILLIANT

"When I first went into the centre (2004), obviously Brian wasn't there, Kevin Maggs was brilliant. To be that young guy and have an older guy come over, it's just part of the course."

The pressure to perform increases when you are presented with what many are ordaining as the best rugby team ever with the brutish bulk of Ma'a Nonu set to stand right in front of him.

Nonu has been around a while too. He has survived the temporary cross-code import of Sonny Bill Williams and the legion of challengers for his number 12 jersey.

"I have performed well against him in the past," said D'Arcy.

"I know I can defend him. He has got a good step off both feet. He is strong in the contact. But I am no shrinking violet in the contact myself.

"I just know I have to be as physical as I can in the contact with him because, if you shy away from that physical confrontation, he will absolutely obliterate you."

D'Arcy is one of two enduring Irish centres who have had to compete in a Land of Giants for well over a decade. Half-hearted commitment in body or mind is simply not an option.

"I think that's what separates you guys on that side (the media) and us guys on this side. Performing well just isn't good enough for us. If it was, I wouldn't be here.

"I say that as humbly as possible but that's what drives us. To be the best and to win! I go into a game wanting to win every moment and every battle that's in it. And if we don't, then what's the point?"

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