Sport Champions Cup

Saturday 25 November 2017

D'Arcy calling on past experience to conquer Toulouse

David Kelly

David Kelly

The capital's sporting evangelists will be eager to swiftly shake off the Blues following last weekend's latest episode of sporting hari kari from the Dubs at Croker.

But be sure, the automatons of Leinster will allow for the fewest physical or psychological flaws at Lansdowne this Saturday.

Of course, not all the Leinster spirits share kin with the metropolitans, as Gordon D'Arcy swiftly cautions. "I'm from Wexford, remember," he advises.

Still, D'Arcy's decade-long history of service defers enough privilege upon him to explain just how his Leinster side have managed to supplant the uncertainty of yore with a stiff resolution that makes them feared throughout Europe -- in stark contrast to the Dubs, who seem mortally afraid of their own shadow.

"The ones when you're on top are easy decisions to make," he explains. "It's when you're behind and chasing games that poor decisions are made. A lot of coaches have said to me over the years, particularly Joe Schmidt and Vinny Murray years ago, that making decisions under the stress of fatigue is a skill of itself.

"Practice is key. I've been on the receiving end, particularly early in my career when the skill execution just isn't there to the degree necessary at the tight end of a match when the pressure is at its fiercest.

"And when a couple of people do that in a game, that can be the difference between winning and losing. Now I'm edging towards a position that I'm confident that, in those pressure situations, I'd be able to execute those skills at the highest level more often than not.

"Practice makes perfect, really. But you've also got to learn from your own mistakes. You've got to do things wrong enough times to know how to eventually do them right.

"It sounds like I'm stating the obvious, but you've got to be prepared to fail.

"To be prepared to do it again and again until you get it right. And then as soon as you get it right, you kind of go why didn't I do it in the first place?"

Following last year's defeat at this stage to the same opposition, on French soil, there is an almost cavalier attitude being tossed around that merely returning the re-match to the familiarity of Lansdowne Road can help to turn the tables.

D'Arcy scoffs at such a notion.

"It's still Toulouse," he retorts. "They've got the biggest budget. Rupeni Caucaunibuca was playing at the weekend, he hasn't played for four or five games.

"He'd walk into any team in Europe yet he's one of their rotational guys. It just shows the strength of depth in their squad.

"They're the team that everybody wants to beat, year in year out. They've won the most trophies.

"We can't look for any excuses, we'll take them at face value and have to bring our 'A' game.

"It's about ourselves and doing what Joe and Jono Gibbes tell us, and with Leo Cullen calling the shots. We just need to worry about ourselves. I know myself, if I'm lucky to play, if I win my individual battle, then I can contribute to the team.

"Everyone needs to have that mindset and perform that little bit better than the guy you're playing against.

"I think Toulouse are going to be a step up on Leicester. Toulouse are probably more of a complete team. They have more impact off the bench.

"If the Leicester game was of an international standard, this will be even more so, like a World Cup knock-out match or something more physically demanding.

"These are the games you want to play in, the games you want to win."

Irish Independent

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