Gordon Darcy: ‘I was coasting along in my early days at Leinster’
IRELAND star Gordon Darcy has revealed that his career could have been over before it really started as he was ‘coasting along in his early days at Leinster.
“Structure was not exactly my friend,” the Leinster player said on an interview with Ray D’Arcy on Today FM. “I left Clongowes and I had an opportunity to play professional rugby and I wasn't exactly grasping that with any shape or form. I was coasting along on the bit the talent that I perceived I had.”
He credits former Leinster coach Matt Williams and his father with helping him get his career on track.
“My dad and Matt Williams helped me in their own unique ways. My dad said ‘you’re doing rugby or you’re not doing rugby – make up your mind’. Matt Williams brought me for breakfast and casually told me that I was not going to be contracted with Leinster anymore.
“I was stunned and he played me totally for the fool I was. He said: ‘Tell you what I will give you three weeks to prove that you’re worth keeping’.”
He also said that he had complete “trust" in the retiring Brian O’Driscoll.
“It comes down to complete trust. That is something that we found very quickly. It either happens or it doesn’t happen. We just had it.”
The Ireland star also revealed that he started thinking about the next game, minutes after winning the tournament in dramatic fashion against France on Saturday.
“It’s hard headspace to explain,” he revealed. “You’ve just won the Six Nations and it’s amazing for a few days. But it’s in the back of your head that you are playing Munster next week. You think then we have to play Toulon in April and have to mark [Mathieu] Bastareaud again. It is there in the back of your mind.
He also said that the Six Nations victory is only starting to sink in.
“I was sitting at home with my wife [Aoife] and she asked what was I smiling about? And I replied: ‘We just won a second Championship.’ So that’s when I knew it was starting to kick in.”
On the subject of his beard, he revealed that Aoife got sick of it before it was shaved off.
“She was a big fan until six weeks ago when she said it just started to get wild. She did like it when it was better groomed.”
Darcy admits that he was surprised at the level of interest in his beard, with its own fanpage on Twitter.
“Maybe it was down to the fact that it was red. Maybe that provoked some people’s interest. But it was so completely ungroomed at the end that it was getting hard to eat! I have a great picture of my dad and he was wearing a brilliant beard. A big red one thick one. Then one evening my dad shaved off his beard and my mum didn’t recognise him. But I’ve always really wanted to grow one.”
Darcy also revealed how odd it is to go back to work days after winning the Six Nations.
“On Monday, I got to spend some time hanging out with Aoife and I was thinking: ‘Damnit tomorrow I am going to have to start kicking back to getting ready for next week'. I am not as young as I used to be and it takes a little bit longer to get the body going.”
The Leinster and Ireland star also revealed how difficult it is to resume training after the intensity of a competition like the Six Nations.
“When you finish a tournament like the Six Nations, your body just goes ‘I’m done. I need a break’. It’s that mental and physical break that you need. But Leinster and Ireland have been brilliant in that regard.
“They’ve only had us in for a couple of sessions this week and they’ve told us to go away and switch off. Next week is a big week. Playing Munster is always a massive game.”
He also talked up Leinster’s chances when they face Toulon in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup in early April.
“At this stage of the competition, you are in control of your own destiny. Each game is a final. Obviously we have a tough draw against the reigning champions in their back yard but we have proven that we are up for the challenge.”
Darcy also said that the presence of Munster and Ulster in the final showed the current strength of Irish rugby.
“The fact that there are three Irish teams in the final eight just shows how good the standard of rugby in Ireland is. And that we should be competing at this level international on a more regular basis. All credit to Joe and the next level he has brought into the Irish team.
He won’t miss teammate Brian O’Driscoll – at least not socially anyway.
“He just lives around the corner from me, so I’m sure I’ll still see plenty of him.”