Sunday 17 December 2017

Boost for Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll as Gordon D'Arcy winning fitness battle

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL has described Gordon D'Arcy as "the best centre I've ever played with" just as the 32-year-old edges closer to full fitness WRITES CONOR GEORGE.

The pair (pictured below) have played together in the Ireland midfield a record 48 times and yesterday O'Driscoll hailed the influence D'Arcy has had on his career.

"Gordon is a hugely important player in my game, just because of the comfort he gives me," said the 34-year-old O'Driscoll of his Leinster and Ireland colleague.

"From a defensive point of view he's incredibly strong. He is the best centre I have ever played with. I wouldn't say it's a case of telepathy with us. But we don't always have to speak to each other during matches to understand each other. It's in the body language at this stage, and through reading, that we know what each of us is doing.

"It's something that happens with any player, the more you play alongside each other the better you understand each other," added O'Driscoll.

That D'Arcy was presented to the midweek media briefing for interview increases the confidence in his fitness and his probable availability for Sunday's clash with England.

D'Arcy was the biggest worry of the injured contingent after suffering a dead leg against Wales, but he was moving well around the team hotel yesterday and took a full part in media duties, heightening speculation he will be able to resume his partnership with O'Driscoll on Sunday.

If there was a serious doubt about his availability it is unlikely he would have been talking to the press.

D'Arcy, assistant coach Mark Tainton confirmed, took a full part in training, as did Peter O'Mahony, while Keith Earls is also recovering well, although he did see a specialist regarding his shoulder injury yesterday.

Sean O'Brien sat out training with a calf strain but he is expected to train fully tomorrow, at which point the starting team will be announced.

Irish Independent

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