Gordon D’Arcy is happy to be back in the British & Irish Lions fold and wants to put to bed some of the myths and rumours that circulated around his last trip with the tourists four years ago.
Then it was claimed by Clive Woodward that the Leinster and Ireland centre was “too exhausted” to be considered for the final Test match against the All Blacks.
It was an episode, as he told Gerry Thornley of the Irish Times before linking up with the Lions in South Africa, that hurt him deeply.
“I was deeply disappointed that any rugby player, whatever about commentators or pundits, and particularly former British & Irish Lions, might suggest I would have chosen not to play in a Test match for the Lions because I was exhausted or suffering from exhaustion. That’s just nonsensical,” he said.
“I have to admit I was upset by it. Unfortunately the spin that was put on what occurred has ensured that certain people believed that.
“I know the truth of what happened but I want to put the matter to rest and there’s no better way of doing that than having the opportunity to play for the Lions again.”
That chance will come sooner rather than later in South Africa given the injury sustained by England’s Riki Flutey in his brief appearance off the bench in the opening game against the Royal XV. D’Arcy may only have just arrived, but he is in commanding form.
He scored a try for the Barbarians in their 33-26 win over England at Twickenham and was alongside fellow Lions Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip when Leinster won the Heineken Cup for the first time a week earlier at Murrayfield.
He had headed to San Franciso for a holiday after that Twickenham triumph, but took the call inviting him to come to South Africa a few hours after having a work-out in the gym at his hotel.
“While I’d hoped to make the original squad I don’t feel that the honour is in any way lessened by being called up in this manner,” said D’Arcy.
His call-up completes a dramatic transformation in fortunes. After suffering multiple fractures of his arm, and undergoing three operations, in 2008 there were some who feared he would never get back to his best.
But he returned to the Leinster fold, eased his way back into the Irish RBS Six Nations side with a try against the French and by the end of the Grand Slam campaign was as integral and influential a part of the team as ever.
“It just shows you how dramatically things can turn around. In the same way as you can be on an absolute high as a player and get an injury that can rule you out for six months or a year, it can happen in reverse,” he told the Irish Times.
“I had to earn my place back in the Leinster team, and then the Irish team. Then there was the Grand Slam, then the Heineken Cup and now the Lions. So things have gone full circle from the pits of despair to now achieving everything and anything in a season that any player would want to achieve.”