Ireland’s ‘Golden Generation’ of rugby players is refusing to go gently into the night, with Gordon D’Arcy the latest member to declare an intent to play professionally for club and country until his body or employers say otherwise.
The Leinster centre signed a new two-year deal with the IRFU earlier this week which will keep him at the province until 2014 but D’Arcy, who is 32, is hopeful he will be offered a similar deal 24 months down the line.
“I will absolutely reluctantly give up my chance to play for this province,” he explained yesterday. “I will have to be literally told: “You have no contract. You are too old. Retire!” Until that day I will keep playing. I think I have a huge amount to offer and that is reflected in Leinster’s belief in me by offering a two-year contract. In a year-and-a-half’s time hopefully I will be sitting down talking to (the media) telling you I will be hanging around for another year or two.”
Brian O’Driscoll is 33 but hinted last month he could still be in contention for the next World Cup while Ronan O’Gara has likewise insisted he still has plenty to offer at international level.
D’Arcy has already won 68 caps for Ireland and almost 200 for Leinster. His form and place in the Ireland midfield was questioned during the Six Nations but he has returned to something approaching his best form since reverting from green to blue.
He spoke yesterday of the positive attitude his old Clongowes coach Vinny Murray used to display on the dirtiest of training days while the forced retirements of players like Shane Horgan and Jerry Flannery have clearly had an influence too.
“It was done very quickly,” he said of the latest contract extension. How do you leave one of the best teams, if not the best team, in Europe to go somewhere else? It is a step down.
“I have been in this team since I was 15, with the U16s in Leinster. I was born in Wexford, I’m part of this province in some way, shape or form since I was born. Everybody I meet who has retired keeps saying: “keep going, keep going, keep going until you stop enjoying it. I swear to God I absolutely love it, there’s a smile on my face every day.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved