D'Arcy calls on side to repay fans
February 22, 2012
Gordon D'Arcy has called on his side to impress against Italy © Getty Images
Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy had demanded that his team-mates match the commitment and passion displayed by their supporters.
A punishing schedule of four matches in 22 days, imposed by the weather-enforced postponement of the France game, begins with Saturday's arrival of Italy in Dublin. Inactive since losing to Wales on the opening weekend of the championship, Ireland are eager to resume their campaign by propelling themselves back into the title frame.
Victory would also end their three-match losing streak at the Aviva Stadium, and D'Arcy believes it is time to vindicate coach Declan Kidney's refusal to make changes.
"The importance of beating Italy is an absolute no-brainer," the Leinster centre said. "There are huge things at stake here - our home record, getting our championship challenge back on track and setting the record straight.
"We also need to repay the people who have put a lot of faith in us, from the management right the way through to the amazing support we've received, even when our performances have dipped. A lot of people have put faith in us and now it's time for us to give it back to them.
"We must deliver. All the talking is great, but we are the ones who have to deliver."
For almost three weeks Ireland have trained beneath the cloud of their loss to Wales, which saw a winning position surrendered in the final minute. Only an emphatic rout of Italy will dispel the gloom and deny their growing number of critics further ammunition in calling for changes to be made.
The Azzurri, who have lost to France and England, are unlikely to prevent Ireland from securing the required result, although D'Arcy believes the influence of new coach Jacques Brunel has made them a more rounded side.
"You'll never be happy losing a game like ours against Wales, it leaves you with a real sick feeling," he said. "You carry a little bit of that feeling into the next match and it is a motivating factor, but it's gone and nothing we can do will change it.
"We have to focus on Italy, who will provide a different set of challenges. The new coach has come in and developed what (predecessor) Nick Mallett has done. He's taken the mainstay of their game, the physical attributes like then ruck, maul and scrum, and added a more expansive game.
"Fly-half now seems to be the directional figure for the team and the 15 also seems to have a free role to so what he wants, popping off the nine and centres. They are definitely trying to be less predictable. For us we look at what they do and defend it.
"We need a determined mindset and doggedness about us. Whatever they throw at us, take it, then take a step forward."
D'Arcy, the senior figure in Ireland's backline following the injury-enforced absence of Brain O'Driscoll, is among the players who require a strong performance against Italy.
However, the 32-year-old is one of those who believe the recent break will be beneficial. "It's fine, it hasn't really impacted on us," he said. "We had a full week's preparation before the France game, we just missed the match.
"We've had a full week of normal preparation for this Italy game, so we're probably the least affected by the postponement. We're some 20 games into the season so if anything the break will allow us to recharge the batteries.
"We've got four matches on the bounce now and I believe that will be a good thing for us. Hopefully I won't be eating those words in four weeks' time."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success