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Gordon D'Arcy on the arrival of Stuart Lancaster and Leinster's need for a clinical edge

Lancaster was relieved of his duties as English coach following a disappointing home World Cup.

D'Arcy retired from rugby last year after winning 82 Ireland caps.
D'Arcy retired from rugby last year after winning 82 Ireland caps.
Image: Marc O'Sullivan

FORMER IRELAND AND Leinster centre Gordon D’Arcy believes the addition of former England boss Stuart Lancaster to the eastern province’s coaching staff is a welcome boost for his old side, after they struggled for large parts of last season.

“You’ve got to say he brings an awful lot to the table. He has coached at international level with probably the most scrutinised team behind the All Blacks in world rugby, and has proven his ability to do it,” D’Arcy tells the42.

“The best way to look at it is if you take away the last World Cup, which is about 5%-10% of his tenure, he was an incredibly successful coach, and the most successful English coach since Clive Woodward.”

“He has shown amazing strength of character to come in and work under a very young head coach, and again that same compliment goes to Leo Cullen, that he is happy to bring an international head coach to work as a senior coach with him.”

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Pool A - England v Uruguay - City of Manchester Stadium Lancaster left his role with England after they failed to progress from their pool at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The 46-year-old is expected to fill the vacated position of the former defence coach Kurt McQuilkin, who departed Leinster to return to New Zealand for personal reasons, but D’Arcy thinks Lancaster will have a much bigger role within the setup.

“I wouldn’t say he is going to be completely pigeonholed (as a defensive coach), he has a wealth of coaching experience.

“He is going to be helping Girvan (Dempsey) with the backs, he will probably helping with the attack too, but he is not just going to be a defensive coach. He will be developing a lot of facets to their game.”

A straightforward opening day victory in the Pro12 for last year’s table toppers over Treviso, was followed by a disappointing away loss to Glasgow on Saturday.

Irish internationals Jamie Heaslip, Devin Toner, Jack McGrath and Sean Cronin were among the province’s standout absentees in Scotland due to the IRFU player management programme, and D’Arcy feels that a lack of experience on the field last weekend proved costly as Leinster lost a 10-point lead in the second-half.

“At the 50th minute mark, they probably needed that old head to say we need a bit of territory, we are going to put these guys under pressure and we are going to play in the right areas of the field.

“The were missing some of their star players but they adapted well with the resources they had at their disposal.”

The three-time Heineken Cup winner thinks the younger players will need to work on being more clinical when they have they lead, as well as their game-management to ensure the team doesn’t leave a game they controlled for large periods empty-handed.

“The younger players are getting exposure to high-quality games, but this comes at a cost with naivety in a forward pack. Young guys are gaining valuable experience but Leinster were left without any points from that game, but I’d be pretty happy with the start.”

One of the players that has grasped his opportunity with both hands this season is 20-year-old out-half Joey Carbery, and he is a player D’Arcy believes has the potential to get even better.

Joey Carbery runs in his and Leinster's second try Carbery claimed the Division 1A title with Clontarf last season. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He has all the elements; he can kick, he can tackle, he can pass, he can offload, he can run and he has good decision-making skills. He just needs to get those tactical nuances in games, he has that, but just needs that experience.”

While the former Lions star also feels Garry Ringrose is ready to take his game to the next level after an impressive debut season last year.

“Garry has always been very hungry to get better. He was always asking questions when I was there, looking to become a better footballer. All the things you want to see, and he had a great breakthrough season last year.

“It has been really encouraging to see him in the games so far this year, he took a couple of big physical hits and he can mix with that. The sky is the limit for this guy.”

Garry Ringrose Ringrose will be hoping another impressive season with Leinster will boost his international credentials. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“It is always a little bit harder in the second season, people are more aware of who he is and his footwork. The onus is on him to get better and try not to overplay his hand, just do the simple things well.”

And after a year away from the game, the 36-year-old is more than comfortable with his decision to retire, as he admits to struggling to maintain the physical level required to compete at the highest level, despite having offers on the table to continue playing from the UK and France.

“I’m very glad to be finished with it. Getting towards the end of my career it was a real, real struggle at that level. Physically it was getting harder and harder to play rugby. I’m done, it’s a young man’s game.”

Gordon D’Arcy will be joining a list of sporting stars such as Andy Lee, Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy and members of the Irish women’s rugby team, who will take to the stage for live Q&A sessions at the eir Pavilion on-site at the National Ploughing Championships.

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Shane Costello

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