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'Win our next 3 games and the first half of the season is forgotten' -- Gordon D'Arcy

Leinster have “made things hard” for themselves, but the veteran centre refuses to lose heart when the Champions Cup final is a step away.

THE VETERAN OF Leinster’s back line will typify the mood of the province in the coming weeks.

The three-time European champions will be bullish, their self-belief will be unshakable and they will be fiercely defensive about their ability to put another silver lining on the end of a relatively difficult season.

Mike McCarthy, Gordon D'Arcy and Jimmy Gopperth celebrate winning Gordon D'Arcy celebrates Leinster's progress to the European Cup semi-final with Mike McCarthy and Jimmy Gopperth. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

The42 brought up the oddly negative mood surrounding the province – not the team, of course, but certainly some supporters – since the Champions Cup quarter-final win over Bath. Gordon D’Arcy’s response is simple: they’re still alive, still fighting for titles.

“Our destiny is in our own hands, we’ve put ourselves in a position to get to a final. Four or five months ago, if you said you can have an away semi-final, we’d take your hand off for it.

“We win our next three games and the first half of the season is forgotten about and the focus is just on the last three games.

“It’s just about winning, and about having that drive to do it. There is every chance we can get trophies at the end of the season. You have to believe that. If you don’t believe it, you shouldn’t be on the pitch or in the changing room.”

While the pathway to absolution in Europe is clear (albeit extremely difficult with a trip to face Toulon in Marseille), Leinster’s Pro12 form has been more problematic amid weeks of disruption from the national team calling players for either Championship minutes or mere hours on the training field. Victory over Bath was just the second win in seven games for Matt O’Connor’s side. With a four-point gap now open between the champions and Ospreys in the fourth and final playoff spot, D’Arcy is only too aware that another slip-up will spell the end of their title defence.

“Sometimes you don’t have to say things,” notes the Wexford man, “it’s glaringly obvious. Everyone’s fully aware of what things mean and how things play out.

Gordon D'Arcy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“We’ve made things hard for ourselves, but adversity can push people on to do great things. We’re very confident in our ability to win games from here on out.”

To do that, improvement is required. Nothing new in a squad where continuous improvement used to double as a mission statement.

“You have to grow. At this stage we’ve plenty of experience at this. Every game becomes a cup final game and every game someone is trying to challenge you to get to semis and get to finals.

“Everybody is hungry and everyone is getting in to that last chance saloon for silverware and every game is more important than the previous one.”

The big days are why you do all the horrible training and the dark stuff that nobody ever sees.

“They’re the ones you really, really want, but they’re the culmination of a lot of hard work. You don’t get there without a lot of hard work, so when you get there, you really have to savour it. You really hurt to get there and gone through the hard work and you have to learn to finish it off when you get there.

“We haven’t been in the shake-up [in Europe] in the last couple of years, but that drive needs to come from players who have been.

“Those lads who have now tasted the other side of what sport is about, the really less enjoyable side of it is when you lose and put yourself in positions that you want to be.

“They have got to now stand up and have learned from the past three years, the experience and pains of crucial moments and not winning big games. You’re going to have to have old guys to drive it and young guys to push through.”

-Originally published 06.00

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Sean Farrell

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