Wednesday 21 February 2018

Rory Best backs Gordon D'Arcy to force his way back into Ireland reckoning

Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy
Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy

Nick Purewal

Gordon D'Arcy will prolong his Test career by proving he is too good to be overlooked by Ireland, according to Rory Best.

Boss Joe Schmidt omitted veteran centre D'Arcy from his 36-man training squad for Ireland's RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam push.

Head coach Schmidt has preferred Darren Cave and Keith Earls to the 35-year-old Leinster star for his midfield cover as Ireland gear up to face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Hooker Best believes D'Arcy can force his way back into the Ireland squad, with Schmidt's men still hunting their second Grand Slam in six years.

"Gordon's had a few injury problems this year and whenever you're not in the squad you want to get back playing well and at least build a case to put to the coaches," said Ulster hooker Best.

"Gordon's probably been written off a few times in his career, but he's got a great attitude, he's a great player and if you see him playing back well for Leinster I don't think Ireland have enough players to be turning people down that are playing well."

D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll set the Test record as the most-capped centre pairing, ending their partnership in style by seeing off France 22-20 in Paris to claim the 2014 Six Nations title.

O'Driscoll retired last summer as Ireland's record caps holder, the former British and Irish Lions captain content with his lot and keen not to push too far beyond his prime.

D'Arcy opted to drive on undeterred, quite clearly targeting the 2015 World Cup as his potential swansong.

Now Leinster's midfield pivot faces a serious battle to force his way back into Schmidt's reckoning, with Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne tying down the two starting berths.

Barring injury D'Arcy will not feature as Ireland bid to win back-to-back Six Nations titles for the first time since 1949.

The trips to Wales and Scotland to finish the Six Nations are Ireland's last competitive clashes before the autumn World Cup, but team manager Mick Kearney backed D'Arcy's bid for potential reintegration.

"That is a selection issue, yes," said Kearney of D'Arcy's absence.

"Gordon has been an unbelievable servant for Irish rugby.

"He's back fit, back playing for Leinster, so certainly I wouldn't rule him out for future consideration."

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