D’Arcy returns for Ireland

Lions tourist Gordon D'Arcy has been recalled to the Ireland squad after a year-long absence. [more]

D’Arcy returns for Ireland

Lions tourist Gordon D’Arcy has been recalled to the Ireland squad after a year-long absence.

The Leinster centre broke his arm in the opening match of last year’s Six Nations and only returned to action in December.

D’Arcy, who made seven appearances for the Lions in 2005, will be hoping to regain the international form that saw him voted player of the tournament in the 2004 Six Nations.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has retained all 34 players from the November internationals, with London Irish lock Bob Casey, Ulster prop Tom Court, Harlequins prop Michael Ross, Munster flanker Donnacha Ryan and the uncapped Ulster centre Darren Cave the new additions to the 39-man squad.

“We want to continue to develop a panel and bringing in 39 players allows to us to work with the players on this basis,” said Kidney, who enters his first Six Nations since taking over from Eddie O’Sullivan last year.

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“The core group of players who were part of the November squad have maintained their form but it is also pleasing to be able to bring in players who are really developing this season like Darren Cave and Tom Court, as well as more established players who have performed well over the last number of weeks.”

Ireland take on France at Croke Park on February 7, with Kidney aware of the challenge that faces an Ireland side that under achieved in the 2007 World Cup and the 2008 Six Nations.

“The RBS 6 Nations Championship is one of, if not the best annual international tournament in the world and a great sporting occasion in Ireland. 

“The Guinness Series in November was mission accomplished from a ranking point of view and the win against Argentina, although not the prettiest game anybody may have seen, was vitally important. 

“The France game is another step above that as they can bring so much to their game and are incredibly dangerous in this tournament. The players’ focus for the first week will be to set the foundations for the tournament and after that, the only focus we will have will be on our opening game against France.”

Ulster halfbacks Isaac Boss and Ian Humphreys have both been named in a nine-man Ireland A panel, with the reminder of the A squad for the clash with England Saxons squad on February 6 to come from the senior players not involved in the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

Both the Ireland and Ireland A matchday squads will be announced on Tuesday, February 3.

Ireland squad:

Backs: Girvan Dempsey (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Ian Dowling (Munster), Shane Horgan (Leinster), Robert Kearney (Leinster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Tomas O’Leary (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Wasps), Peter Stringer (Munster)

Forwards: Rory Best (Ulster), Jerry Flannery (Munster), Bernard Jackman (Leinster), Tom Court (Ulster), John Hayes (Munster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Marcus Horan (Munster), Mike Ross (Harlequins), Ryan Caldwell (Ulster), Bob Casey (London Irish), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Mick O’Driscoll (Munster), Malcolm O’Kelly (Leinster), Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Shane Jennings (Leinster), Denis Leamy (Munster), Alan Quinlan (Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), David Wallace (Munster)

Ireland A panel: Isaac Boss (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Connacht), Gavin Duffy (Connacht), Ian Humphreys (Ulster), Keith Matthews (Connacht), John Muldoon (Connacht), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Neil Best (Northampton), John Andress (Exeter)

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