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D'Arcy could fill O'Driscoll berth

Gordon D'Arcy could prove Ireland boss Joe Schmidt's surprise choice to succeed Brian O'Driscoll at outside centre.

Schmidt must quickly solve the conundrum of how best to handle life after record caps-holder O'Driscoll's summer retirement.

Connacht's Robbie Henshaw has been widely tipped to fill the void, with O'Driscoll himself joining that clamour.

Schmidt may well consider sliding O'Driscoll's long-term centre partner from 12 to 13, however, according to former Ireland flanker David Wallace.

"It will be interesting to see how that pans out as there are a lot of guys sticking their hands up for the job," said Wallace.

"There are also serious thoughts of Gordon D'Arcy moving out there to 13 as well, though.

"You look at him and Brian: they are actually very similar players, and Gordon's probably more suited to outside centre naturally anyway.

"It's just that Brian's been there so long that no one was going to move him.

"Maybe you could bring a bigger centre in there, and perhaps Gordon could move across."

Ireland claimed just their second win in Paris in 42 years to claim the RBS 6 Nations crown in O'Driscoll's international farewell last term.

The 35-year-old's exit leaves a vast chasm for Schmidt to fill, especially with just 12 fixtures left before Rugby World Cup 2015.

D'Arcy has refused to speculate on his own future beyond the end of the current campaign, but the 34-year-old is expected to plough on to the World Cup barring injury.

Former Munster, Ireland and Lions flanker Wallace believes D'Arcy could be the man to slot in at 13, especially to boost the side's defensive shape.

"A lot of guys are putting up their hands: there's Stuart Olding, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave and Jared Payne up in Ulster alone," said Wallace.

"Then you've got Robbie Henshaw down at Connacht of course.

"So it will be interesting to see how it pans out, because there's a wave of opportunity there.

"Defence is a 15-man game obviously, but Brian was pretty much a coach in defensive regards, he would always keep you honest and keep the line strong.

"From a defensive position it's the most difficult on the pitch, where you're probably most exposed and you've got a huge number of decisions to make.

"So it is a difficult position in that respect, but I think Gordon would certainly be up to the task.

"The biggest challenge for anyone going in there of course, is taking up that mantle.

"Obviously in attack Drico was amazing but not only from game day, seeing his level of precision in training, the demands he made in terms of where he would want you, I learned so much from him.

"He certainly had it all down to a fine art, so that's going to be tough for guys to fill into, but Joe Schmidt will certainly take over that area too."

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