Adam D’Arcy admits that he hadn’t been expecting to come face to face with Biarritz Olympique quite so early in last Sunday afternoon’s Heineken Cup clash.
Simon Danielli’s unfortunate shoulder injury saw the Irish-qualified Australian thrust into the heat of battle after only 24 minutes — D’Arcy’s introduction forcing David McIlwaine’s switch to the wing with the replacement filling the resultant full-back berth.
“I certainly didn’t expect to be involved that early. Unfortunately Simon got injured so when that happened and I got on I just tried to make an impact,” said D’Arcy.
Biarritz certainly made an impact on him; he is unlikely to forget his Heineken Cup baptism of fire courtesy of last season’s beaten finalists.
“It was very hard. Biarritz, especially in the second half, really upped the tempo and were very clinical in their transition.
“They were a very fast and very physical team who got off the line well and really took their opportunities,” he said.
As for the occasion itself, that too made a big impression on him.
“It was a really good experience. There was a great atmosphere with a lot of Ulster supporters having come over, which we really appreciated,” he said.
Tonight comes another opportunity to make an impact — this time from the outset — for having been named at full-back for Ulster’s Murrayfield joust with Edinburgh, D’Arcy gets his first start since September 11 when he lined out against Aironi at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella.
After that, Jamie Smith’s availability having recovered from injury saw the Ballymena man reinstated at full-back and McIlwaine upgraded to understudy him with D’Arcy dropping to third place in the pecking order for the number 15 shirt.
Now, with circumstances having provided him with a chance to state his case anew, D’Arcy is relishing the prospect of running out at Murrayfield.
“The guys have said it’s a strange atmosphere because it’s a big international stadium that’s practically empty.
“But I’m looking forward to the chance to play at another good ground like that and I don’t think the crowd thing will matter to me. When you’re playing you try to shut the crowd out anyway and just concentrate on playing the game.”
Quite apart from looking forward to gracing one of world rugby’s most famous stages, D’Arcy is glad of the opportunity to exorcise the ghost of Parc des Sports Aguiléra
“We’re really keen to make amends for that disappointing second half against Biarritz and that’s the beauty of the game — you get the chance to do that within a week, or in this case even sooner,” he said.
“In terms of our physical condition we did a lot in pre-season and we’ve done enough in the past six weeks for that not to be a problem. Physically we’re in good shape.”
“After what happened on Sunday everybody’s really keen to get back out there so I think the shorter than usual turnaround could actually work in our favour. We’re going over there with a good attitude,” was his encouragingly positive response.
“Biarritz was just a disappointing 40 minutes, that’s all.
“So there’s no need for us to change structurally or anything like that.
“We don’t have to do anything drastic. A slight attitude adjustment and bounce back — that’s as we see it.”