D’Arcy ready for challenges of 17th season with Leinster

Veteran centre doesn’t feel season will be defined by European Champions Cup

Leinster’s Gordon D’Arcy, Seán O’Brien and Jimmy Gopperth at the launch of the province’s new European kit. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster’s Gordon D’Arcy, Seán O’Brien and Jimmy Gopperth at the launch of the province’s new European kit. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

With the start of the new campaign just over four weeks away, anticipation is rising amongst Matt O’Connor’s Leinster squad, as they seek to secure an unprecedented third successive Pro 12 title.

After a disappointing end to last season’s Heineken Cup, the Blues will also be eager to impress in the maiden European Champions Cup, but speaking at the launch of the province’s brand-new European shirt in UCD, veteran centre Gordon D’Arcy doesn’t feel that this is how the team’s season will be defined.

“We don’t define ourselves by Heineken Cups. There’s three competitions available in the season and obviously the hardest of those is the Champions Cup, but you want to be winning your domestic league and winning the British & Irish Cup,” the Wexford native remarked.

“We are the first team to defend that back-to-back and we put both trophies back-to-back, so that was a huge positive for us in a season that we made very hard for ourselves by losing that Northampton game at home and having to go to the eventual champions away and then not performing that day. They’re not excuses, but that’s the way the season panned out.”

Since making his debut for Leinster back in 1998, D’Arcy has kept a close eye on how the game has evolved during the professional era.

‘Altitude tent’

“This is my 17th season, so I have 16 years of bangs, bruises and bumps, so I can’t do what I was able to do four or five years ago. I can still train as hard as all the lads, it just has to be in different ways.

“I’m sure you’ve all heard of our good friend the altitude tent. That takes an awful lot of the trauma off your joints so I’m spending an awful lot of time in there. It’s one of the most horrific experiences of my life. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the air. It is like training at 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 feet. You are running with half the volume of air in the tent. You can literally pass out if you do too much.

“The lactic burn you get in there is pretty horrific. We have done altitude training when we have gone to South Africa and gone up to (Blue) Bulls territory. We did work with masks. We did it with Ireland. We did it with The Lions. There is no hiding. You run and your legs stop working and you’ve a burn in your chest that just won’t go away”.

Away from the field of play, D’Arcy caught attention last Saturday, when he joined a crowd of 2,000 protestors in Dublin to march in Solidarity with Gaza. As co-owner of restaurant The Exchequer (who have decided to no longer stock Israeli goods), this is a cause D’Arcy is passionate about, and he was full of praise for the activism shown by close friend, and former Ireland secondrow, Trevor Hogan in relation to the issue.

“I’d be very friendly with Trevor. I supported him a few years ago when he went on the flotilla and I’d have no problem supporting the people of Gaza and a really good friend who has been a really good activist.”

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