Gordon D'Arcy spars with some of Team Ireland's boxers last week. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Guinness Series: Gordon D'Arcy on Ireland's self-belief and tracking Simon Zebo with GPS

The Wexford man is back in the centre for Ireland after missing the Waikato wipeout.

NOT MANY IRISH citizens, let alone players, will ever rush to look back on the 60-0 balloon burst at Waikato Stadium in June 2012.

Rob Kearney, Rory Best, Brian O’Driscoll and Jonny Sexton faced the media that evening and tried to make sense out of a nine-try mauling by New Zealand that broke records as Ireland’s worst ever international outing.

The country’s new captain, Jamie Heaslip, missed the game through injury and was at the stadium in Hamilton that night but as one of the beleaguered Irish contingent in the stands.

Gordon D’Arcy was back home, after sustaining a calf strain, and preparing for his upcoming nuptials.

The week before the crushing loss, D’Arcy had played his best game for Ireland in over a year [the 24-8 win over England in March 2011] as Ireland came with a last-minute drop goal of a draw with the All Blacks.

The most experienced of Ireland’s starters against South Africa tomorrow is back and keen to play his part in another new beginning.

Mr Positivity

One of the first questions thrown at D’Arcy after the Captain’s Run at the Aviva deals with the fact that Ireland are on the verge of their worst run of results in almost 15 years.

The question is a valid one and, looking at the statistics, Ireland could fall to a 65% losing record [W: 6, D:1, L:13] if they are bested by the Springboks.

“Nothing like putting a bit of positive stats out there,” remarked D’Arcy. He added:

I suppose it just comes down to a must-win game. I think there is enough experience in this team from players who’ve had their backs against the wall and have had those must win games.

I didn’t actually know that that was the worst run that we’ve went on but if you start looking at the result, you take away and take your eye off the ball with regard to the performance.

“If your wound up so tight about the result, the performance doesn’t take care of itself … while I’d love to say to you that we’re going to stop the rot, we can only do what we can and that is the performance.”

He added, “If we get that right, I’ve belief in myself and I’ve belief in my teammates that they are going to do their absolute best and be 100% focused … if we can do that, hopefully that will be enough to get the right result.”

Best, training, ever

D’Arcy gave an insight into the additions and changes to Ireland’s training regime that has had the squad raving all week. He said:

It is something we have talked about as a squad and senior players. In every team there are cycles and maybe it is something that has creeped up on us. Maybe the training hadn’t been at the highest standard.

“We felt it could be higher and the only people that can drive that are the players … one of the things you always strive for is you train how you play and that was certainly something we felt we could drive up as few notches.”

Keep an eye out for this combo on Saturday – D’Arcy finds a surging Peter O’Mahony. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

The emergence of new technologies and the arrival of confident, young players like Iain Henderson Simon Zebo have also helped, according to the Wexford native.

“We’re wearing all this GPS in training and Zebo is the man to catch all week.

“They put in speeds from every session and metres covered and all this kind of stuff goes up and there is a competition element creeping in there.

“Whether you are one of the elder statesmen or one of the younger guys, your natural competitiveness kicks in and you’re like ‘I want to be up there on that leaderboard’.”

Prop squabbles

While the Irish squad may have been reluctant to go and get cleaned up for their tea after intense training sessions, D’Arcy said he was happy to leave the props and second-rows have their scrum wars.

“You couldn’t pay me to hang around and watch three-on-threes and five-on-five scrums. As long as the ball comes out at the end, job done.

“I appreciate the hard work that goes in but I’ve no interest in watching it.”

As for the man who wore the Ireland 12 jersey at Waikato, Paddy Wallace has a much more relaxing afternoon in store.

It certainly beats getting the run-around from Conrad Smith and Sonny Bill Williams.

Preview: New faces in both camps, but Ireland meeting old school Springboks

Pick 6: featuring Ireland v South Africa and much, much more