D'Arcy offered a World Cup lifeline before retirement beckons
Published 02/05/2015 | 02:30
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has offered Gordon D'Arcy an international lifeline by assuring the retiring centre that he still has every chance of featuring in what would be a fourth World Cup later this year.
The 35-year-old veteran has signed a final short-term contract with the IRFU that will conclude at the end of October and Schmidt, who dropped him from his Six Nations title-winning squad this year, will allow the Leinster man to fight for his place in the 31-man party.
Although he will face stiff opposition from a variety of players seeking to become the back-up to first-choice pairing Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw, D'Arcy will be offered the opportunity during the four-game warm-up matches in August to state his case for inclusion.
It had been thought that D'Arcy could retire altogether at the end of this month but a deal has been struck whereby he can still become a viable World Cup option, which would prove a fitting end to a career that began in a blaze of glory when he starred at the 1999 tournament when he was still a teenager.
"My decision has always been that I would leave at this time - after the World Cup - and I would like to thank Leinster and the IRFU for their support in facilitating this process which began last summer," D'Arcy said.
"I am so proud, fortunate and honoured to have represented my province and country for 17 seasons but I am leaving on my terms which is how everyone would wish to end their professional rugby careers.
"It has always been an honour to represent my country. I hope to continue that over the coming months and help to achieve something with this very special group of players and staff at the World Cup."
D'Arcy has also been out of favour at Leinster under Matt O'Connor but his introduction during extra-time in the Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Toulon in Marseille saw his side produce their most sustained spell of attacking rugby.
"Had the result in Marseille gone our way, this week could have been a lot different but unfortunately it isn't so I am taking this opportunity to announce that I will be retiring from professional rugby at the end of October," he added.
"It is a decision that I have not come to lightly but one that sits very easily with me and indeed with my wife, Aoife, and we are confident that I am making the decision for the right reasons.
"I will genuinely miss being a Leinster and Irish rugby player. I have loved every moment of it."