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D'Arcy: We must not get lost in transition

Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy has been through more than one transition in his time at Leinster.

The coaches have been through the revolving door. Matt Williams (2000-2003), Gary Ella (2003-2004), Declan Kidney (2004-2005) and Michael Cheika (2005-2010) have been and gone.

Joe Schmidt is about to join them after three years. Leicester Tiger Matt O'Connor will be next through the door in the summer.

The reigns of Ella and Kidney were short-lived and detrimental to the progress of a club still searching for identity.

"We have had that transition with coaches before where it hasn't been seamless and if anything it was absolute chaos around the squad and that squad was potentially more mature at the time," admitted D'Arcy.



"So I do believe a lot of the stuff starts at the top and works its way down and I think Joe – it's probably something you're going to start seeing in the national job – just handles things absolutely perfectly."

The combination of Cheika's hard-nosed approach and Schmidt's 'added value' has taken Leinster to the summit of European rugby.

D'Arcy has seen it all: "Yeah, I suppose I learned a different skill-set off Cheiks than I did off Joe. The mental side of Cheiks and being able to listen to him when he's blowing his top," he said, with a smile.

"Cheiks brought that real definite steel to a team that needed it, and Joe has built on that steel.

"He's brought that finesse and the subtle little touches and nuances in games that change it.

"He was only talking this week about the one or two plays in a game that change the whole ebb and flow and momentum of it.

"When we get those right we can be on top of teams because we know our defence is good and we can close things out."

While the Australian Cheika and the New Zealander Schmidt have been portrayed as poles apart in many ways, they also share common bonds.

"I think, to be honest, Cheiks and Joe probably have a lot more similar characteristics than dissimilar," said D'Arcy. "Work ethic is one thing that it comes down to and as a player, to be honest, I wouldn't see half of it.

"Coming in at half-eight, nine in the morning, these guys are here and they could be here for two hours, and Cheika was the same.

"I think the game-plan that we have now, there's a foundation definitely that came from Cheiks, and again that comes back to the front five and the back row.

"I can definitely see the same traits and the desire to win in both the coaches," he said.

There are still two pots to be won and D'Arcy and co will see it as their responsibility to see Schmidt out the provincial door as a winner by first taking down a formidable Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 semi-final at the RDS tonight.

"We have lost it (the PRO12 final) three times. That is a huge monkey on our back as a club. We take it as a sleight that we haven't been able to back it up and win."

It is dangerous to entertain the possibility of a double between the Amlin Challenge Cup and the PRO12. The mantra is to look at what is next, not what is last.



"This is a series of three games for us and there is a huge potential at the end of this. This game comes first. We cannot start talking about two weeks on.

"I wouldn't be treating my opponents with the appropriate amount of respect if I was talking about a final in three weeks' time that we haven't even earned the right to get in there yet.

"As far as talking about the PRO12 as a competition, it is a huge opportunity to win silverware. Our domestic league is growing every year. Sky Sports is taking it on in the future."

Leinster will make it their business to concentrate on the here and now.