| 11.1°C Belfast

D’Arcy modest about milestone

Eleven years after making his Irish debut, Gordon D’Arcy will celebrate his 50th cap when leading Ireland out against South Africa on Saturday afternoon in the Aviva Stadium.

However, D’Arcy, one of the most self-effacing players in the game did his best to play down the honour.

“All through my career I’ve been happy just to play rugby and enjoy it. I was never one for seeking publicity or indeed the limelight,” he said.

“The reality is that I feel very uncomfortable with all the publicity surrounding my 50th cap.”

It’s a singular honour for a man who has given Ireland tremendous service down the years, but he’s genuinely embarrassed with all the hype.

“I’m sure there are many other players on the Irish team who have close on 100 caps and they are the people who deserve the kudos and the limelight not me, people like Peter Stringer, John Hayes and Ronan O’Gara.”

It’s typical of the Ireland and Leinster centre that his fondest memories are not so much about Triple Crowns and Grand Slams, but of winning a Leinster Schools Cup with Clongowes Wood.

“That will always remain a huge memory for me and no matter what I may achieve in the sport, that Schools Cup will always mean more than anything else to me.”

O'Driscoll continues as captain but will urge a reluctant D'Arcy to lead the team out against the Springboks.

D'Arcy will be making his 50th Test appearance as part of an all-Leinster backline apart from Osprey Tommy Bowe on the right wing and O'Driscoll insists he deserves his time in the spotlight.

“Gordon has got tremendous character. He broke onto the scene very young as an 18-year-old,” he said.

“He was capped quite young but then it took him four years to win a second cap.

“Since then he's been a regular within the 22. I enjoy playing with him and we know each other's game very well.

“There's an element of telepathy about what one another is doing. It's great to have that familiarity.

“I look forward to helping him remember his 50th cap for all the right reasons.”

D’Arcy thrives in the centre but not at the centre of the attention; a prying intrusion into his love interests can have hardly helped his diffident response to the media thrall.

“I suppose it's different phases in every rugby player's career,” he says softly. “Now I'm just happy to be playing rugby.

“This was a lot more comfortable a few years ago, but it makes me a lot more uncomfortable now. Brian has to do it because he's the captain.”

Belfast Telegraph