Sunday 18 February 2018

D'Arcy says he 'has a chip on his shoulder'

Gordon D'Arcy in action during squad training at Carton House.
Gordon D'Arcy in action during squad training at Carton House.

Duncan Bech

GORDON D'Arcy has warned England that his record-breaking centre partnership with Brian O'Driscoll excels in defence because "we have each a chip on our shoulder".

Ireland are hoping to take a significant step towards repeating their RBS 6 Nations title triumph of 2009 when they host the championship favourites at Aviva Stadium on Sunday.


If, as expected, D'Arcy recovers from his dead leg in time to feature in the starting XV named tomorrow, he will line up alongside O'Driscoll in midfield for a 48th Test with the objective of stopping England on the gainline.


The Ireland centres are among the smallest in international rugby, but D'Arcy insists their attitude transforms them into ferocious defenders.


"Brian's been great to play with for all these years. We've been in and around teams together since we were 16 or 17," he said.


"We've always played together and he's so easy to play with, whether it's in attack or defence.


"One of the things that stands out for both of us is that we enjoy tackling and the confrontation.


"We have the chip on our shoulder that you need to be a really good defender.


"That was epitomised last Saturday when Brian stopped one of Wales' second rows dead in his tracks five metres from our line.


"When you see stuff like that it's inspiring in it's own right.


"A mantra in this squad is 'no matter what it takes to get it done, just do it'. That's come across in the way Brian and I have played down the years."


England name their team tomorrow with the composition of their centre partnership the biggest talking point.


Manu Tuilagi has recovered from the ankle injury that forced him to miss the opening-day rout of Scotland, but the bulldozing Leicester Tiger is expected to be named on the bench with Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt keeping their starting places.


If England choose that option, it raises the prospect of their most destructive player being used as an impact substitute.


Tuilagi was the driving force behind the autumn's sensational upset of world champions New Zealand, but D'Arcy refuses to be intimidated by an opponent he rates highly.


"Manu's a unique player and a powerhouse. His ability to get over the gainline is phenomenal," he said.


"But Brian and I love defending and love challenges. We've always been up against really good players over the years and we've always held our own.


"I watched all of England's matches in November and when you do that you think about how you would defend at certain moments.


"My mates won't watch games with me because I look at it half analytically and they say 'great, you've sucked the fun out of a good weekend!'.


"England were very impressive. They were up for it, the 50-50 balls which are things that New Zealand usually dominate England controlled."


Sunday's showdown in Dublin has been billed as an early title decider with the rivals registering emphatic opening-day victories, while France were dismantled by Italy in Rome.


Ireland overcame Wales 30-22 in a roller-coaster encounter at the Millennium Stadium, generating invaluable momentum heading into this weekend.


Their defensive heroics in the second half took their toll, however, with D'Arcy, centre Keith Earls and flanker Peter O'Mahony doubts ahead of tomorrow's team announcement.


"I took three whacks on my leg in pretty much the same area against Wales. You're not doing anyone any favours by hobbling around the pitch," D'Arcy said.


"You go as long as you can, then you're done. But it's feeling really good and has been improving since Monday.


"I'll know by Friday afternoon if it's all right. You can't really hide it from the medical staff any more.


"The days of saying 'I'll just sit over and have a stretch' are gone. You're not being fair to anyone."

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