GORDON D’ARCY INSISTS he is not worrying about making the 2015 Rugby World Cup, as his focus centres on the short-term.
The 34-year-old enjoyed a strong campaign for Ireland in 2013/14, starting two November Tests and four Six Nations fixtures before missing Ireland’s summer tour of Argentina to undergo shoulder surgery, remedying a long-standing issue.
Joe Schmidt is a fan of D’Arcy’s defensive intelligence, rucking efficiency and calm ball-carrying in midfield, and it seems likely that the Wexford native will continue to have an important role for Ireland in the new season.
Past experiences have made the centre wary of planning too far in advance, however, and D’Arcy claims the World Cup is not in his thoughts at present.
I can’t really control more than six months in my destiny. When I broke my arm in 2008, there was a six-month period where I was told, ‘you are probably never going to play again.’
“I had three operations and it was 50/50 on whether I was going to play. Six months later we win a Grand Slam. So, I’ve learned six months is a very long time in rugby; I can’t worry about what’s going to happen next September ,” continues D’Arcy.
“I can worry about the first half of this season, recovering from my shoulder operation, starting the season, getting as fit as I can, getting four games under my belt before the Champions Cup, a good start in the Champions Cup, put myself in contention for an Irish position and the second half of the Champions Cup. That’s my immediate target.
“If I hit all that, I then flip it over to the next half of the season. If Matt [O'Connor] wants to pick me, if Joe wants to pick me, I will deliver on every stage. I plan on being at least at the top of the queue for every game.”
Currently in the midst of what he terms a typically “horrific” pre-season, D’Arcy is genuinely enthusiastic about upcoming involvement in the re-branded Guinness Pro12, a competition the veteran sees as on the rise.
Coaches and players have long insisted that the league had been a priority for them, but with European qualification now on the cards each season, those sentiments are likely to be matched by supporters.
“The game is growing and it’s not finished growing,” says D’Arcy. “The Guinness Pro12 with Sky is going to be a fantastic product and it’s going to grow the game again. It looks like they are sponsors that are going to be involved with it for longer than two or three years and we will have that association with them.”