Kidney may need to cast net wider to replace D'Arcy
Luke Marshall, one of the contenders to replace Gordon D'Arcy, lies injured on the pitch during Ulster's 26-3 win over Zebre at Ravenhill last night. Photograph: Inpho
RUGBY:Gordon D’Arcy has been ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations Championship following a stress injury to his right foot. The problem only came to light on Thursday when he complained of soreness before an Ireland squad training session and a scan revealed the extent of the injury.
An IRFU statement confirmed “the injury will require immobilisation in a boot for at least four weeks with a projected return to play of six weeks pending further tests and specialist review.”
Ireland coach Declan Kidney will be hoping his rapidly dwindling frontline resources are not further compromised during the weekend’s RaboDirect Pro12 fixtures.
Jonathan Sexton (hamstring), Mike McCarthy (medial knee ligament tear) and Cian Healy (suspension) will, at least, miss the game against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday week.
Simon Zebo (broken metatarsal) and D’Arcy have been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament, along with long- term injury victims Paul O’Connell (back), Richardt Strauss (ankle) and Tommy Bowe (knee).
Stephen Ferris (knee) is edging closer to a return but no definitive date has been offered.
D’Arcy, who celebrated his 33rd birthday last Sunday, the same day he won his 73rd cap for Ireland in their 12-6 defeat to England at the Aviva Stadium, went into the match having recovered from a leg injury sustained on the opening weekend of the tournament.
The Wexford native was forced to limp off after 45 minutes of Ireland’s 30-22 victory over Wales in the Millennium Stadium. It’s instructive to note that when he departed Ireland led 30-3.
He doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for the role he fulfils, in particular the defensive side of his duties. He and Brian O’Driscoll extended their world record midfield partnership to 50 against England.
Recent statistics bear out his importance to the team. During last summer’s tour to New Zealand, D’Arcy missed the first Test against the All Blacks in Auckland – Keith Earls partnered O’Driscoll – and Ireland lost 42-10.
He returned for the second Test alongside O’Driscoll, a game Ireland might have won before going down 22-19. He was an absentee through injury for the third Test – Paddy Wallace flew in from a family holiday in Portugal to join O’Driscoll in the midfield – and Ireland were thumped 60-0.
Leaving aside the non-cap match against Fiji at Thomond Park last November when Luke Marshall and Darren Cave played together in the centre, the last time he missed an Ireland game prior to that tour to New Zealand was during the 2011 Rugby World Cup: Earls and Wallace played in the 62-12 win over Russia, as they had done as a pair in a tournament warm-up match against France in Bordeaux.
Wallace (leg) is injured, while Earls, Kidney’s favoured option in the past when replacing either O’Driscoll or D’Arcy in the Ireland midfield, has this weekend off.