D'Arcy hopes to be boxing clever after O'Neill bout
A meeting with Billy Walsh and the Irish boxing team may be the tonic Declan Kidney’s troops need, writes GAVIN CUMMISKEY
THE MOST successful team in Irish sport visited the Ireland squad in Carton House on Halloween night. There was bloodshed, but that’s inevitable when professional rugby players climb into the ring with Olympic boxers.
Gordon D’Arcy had no intention of getting involved but Billy Walsh picked his fellow Wexford man out of the crowd. “I ended up sparring with Darren O’Neill,” said D’Arcy.
“He hits very, very hard. He patted me on the head afterwards and said, ‘Don’t worry I was taking it easy on you’.
“That puts the fear of God in you even more. But really interesting guys. Just seeing the size demographic of them and the speed in which they operate and their ability to change their foot movements.”
D’Arcy, who’s in line to win his 70th cap against South Africa on November 10th at the Aviva Stadium, said the squad took a lot from the experience.
“A really interesting evening. We had a Q and A with Billy Walsh and talking to him you can understand why we deliver such high performances in the boxing world because you can just see the passion and drive that he has. Everything is performance, performance, performance.
“Kenny Egan spoke and you could almost see the train going from Billy down to Kenny and into the team, right across the board. It was really infectious and great timing for us because we are going to need that performance and that level of consistency in the next three and a half weeks.”
D’Arcy spoke about a squad gathering last September in Dublin when the process of recovery from the 60-0 defeat to New Zealand last summer began to ensure no baggage was brought into camp this week. He has also been studying recent clips of the Springboks bullish approach, identifying their rolling maul as a major threat.
“They have a very strong lineout. They do that breakout maul off the lineout, looking through the video with Paulie (O’Connell) they have so many examples of it. (Bryan) Habana, obviously he is not going to be here, but (JP) Pieterson and others, just hop in behind the maul as soon as it starts. (Ruan) Pienaar is just dropping guys in holes off the maul as it’s moving forward
“The breakdown, with any team, but particularly these guys, they try and dominate. That starts with their carries. They latch onto guys and almost throw them into the contact and try and win that ruck with one guy in it.
“We have ideas to try and counteract these things.
“A lot of it is going to come down to attitude. It is great to have Anthony (Foley) in. At the first defensive meeting you could see how important it was to him. Just like the boxers, when it starts at the top and starts filtering down that is a really important attitude to have.”
Foley confirmed the defensive system introduced by Les Kiss, who has switched to attack coach, remains intact.
“The structure will remain the same but you look at the opposition we are coming up against. There is going to be a certain amount of physicality and we need to be able to deal with that. We are going about doing that.”