50 Up for Irish midfield aces

British & Irish Lions centres Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy have been at the heart of Ireland's midfield since 2002. [more]

50 Up for Irish midfield aces

British & Irish Lions centres Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy have been at the heart of Ireland’s midfield since 2002.

They equalled the world record number of appearances for a centre pair against England in the last round of the 2011 RBS 6 Nations and in Wellington on Saturday will play together for the 50th time in the Test arena.

Will Carling and Jeremy Guscott held the world record for the number of appearances together at centre with 45 (44 for England and 1 for the Lions), but the Ireland and Leinster pair matched that mark when Ireland denied England a Grand Slam in Dublin in March.

Their current tally of 49 appearances includes three games off the bench by D’Arcy (v France, Italy and South Africa in 2009), but they have started together on 46 occasions.

There are also two more games in which they both appeared in the Irish matchday 22 (v Fiji in 2002 and v Pacific Islands in 2006). On both those occasions D’Arcy actually replaced O’Driscoll.

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O’Driscoll is the world’s most capped centre with 122 caps for Ireland and the Lions, with only one appearance coming off the bench. That was against Romania in the 1999 Rugby World Cup. He has also scored 46 Test tries.

It will be their eighth World Cup appearance together at a third tournament – 2003, 2007 and 2011 – when they appear against Wales.

By stark contrast, the Wales centre pairing of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies will be playing together for only the 13th time. The 2009 Lions centre Roberts, who played outside O’Driscoll in the opening two Tests in South Africa, is the senior partner in the Welsh midfield with 35 caps.

He is certainly a player that Irish captain O’Driscoll respects and sees as a huge threat this weekend in Wellington.

“Jamie has done well, mixing his game up and he’ll be a handful. But that’s nothing new,” admitted O’Driscoll.

“He carries extremely hard, but he’s also brought in some nice subtleties. He’s not afraid to mix it up and that’s made him difficult to read.

“He’s evolved on that front, but one aspect of his game that hasn’t changed is his ability to break the gainline. Teams play off go-forward ball and he’s one of their go-to guys for that.”

                                                        Overall                            RWC
Pairing                                       Caps Tries Apps              Apps   Tries

O’Driscoll (32) / D’Arcy (31)      185    53    49 (3)               7          3
Roberts (24) / Davies (23)           55     8     12 (1)               2          0

Overall = Total number of Test appearances (inc Lions) and Tries (inc Lions), Apps is the number of Tests played together. Figures in brackets are with one player coming on as a replacement.

RWC = Number of appearances together in the tournament and tries scored while playing together
Ages in brackets.

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