Irish Rugby
D'Arcy struggling to make World Cup
ESPNscrum Staff
July 31, 2011
Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy is tackle by Argentina's Martin Scelzo, Ireland v Argentina, Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland, November 28, 2010
D'Arcy started all five of Ireland's games during the 2011 Six Nations © PA Photos

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has admitted centre Gordon D'Arcy is facing a battle to be fit in time for the Rugby World Cup.

The centre underwent ankle surgery in June and with a projected six-week recovery time, the 31-year-old looks certain to miss Ireland's World Cup warm-up games - with the first against Scotland on August 6.

The 57-cap centre picked up the injury in Leinster's epic Heineken Cup final win over Northampton and D'Arcy originally hoped for the injury to heal itself naturally. This soon proved to be a forlorn hope and the Wexford-born centre went under the knife on June 20.

And Kidney has now conceded that D'Arcy faces a race against time to make the plane to New Zealand. "Unfortunately Gordon's ankle didn't solve itself so he needed an operation and it will take a good six weeks to be running fully, then you need a pre-season, which is another couple of weeks, so it's getting tight," Kidney said.

Ireland manager Paul McNaughton added, "Gordon is tight to make the World Cup. He recovers quickly and is running while bearing his full weight, so is making progress," he said. "With these type of injuries, a week can tell us a lot - players can progress a lot in that time as well."

The likelihood of Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris, who is struggling with a knee problem, being fit for the World Cup is also shrouded in uncertainty. McNaughton hopes the duo will compete in the latter stages of Ireland's warm-up campaign, which opens against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Both are important players when fit and McNaughton refused to rule out the possibility of taking them to New Zealand without having seen any match action over the coming month. "Gordon and Stephen face a race against time but are making progress," he said. "If there is a likelihood of guys not playing before the World Cup then it's those two.

"We're hopeful that they may be ready for game time, maybe in match three or four of the summer series. They are unlikely to play in the first two games. It's a preference that they have some game time before they go, but we'll never say never on anybody.

"A player could be just a week away from full fitness but it would be dangerous to play him in a game. We always have that option. It's our preference that everyone will get some game time."

Brian O'Driscoll is another player who is unlikely to figure in the opening fixtures of Ireland's five-match tune-up series, which comprises of meetings with Scotland, France home and away, Connacht and England. "Brian has been doing 80% of the work over the last two weeks. I'm not too concerned about him," said McNaughton. "He has a problem with his shoulder/neck and has been having some traction on it. He's doing everything except contact this week, but is unlikely to play in the first two games."

There was more encouraging news on hooker Jerry Flannery and fullbacks Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy, all three of whom are available to face Scotland following lengthy lay-offs.

"Flannery (calf), Kearney (knee) and Murphy (ankle) are ready to go. They were involved in contact last week and are ready for game time," said McNaughton. "Flannery has been out for quite a while now (since January).

"He has been getting specialist rehab on a one-to-one basis during the summer, but over the last two weeks has kept up fully in training. "We're pleased to see him take part in everything from contact to scrummaging. In general the injury situation has been getting better over the last couple of weeks, but we have five matches and need to give guys game time. We're hopeful that every player will partake in some games."

Shane Jennings resumes contact work this week as he continues his comeback from a broken arm.

Ireland start their World Cup preparations against Scotland on Saturday before facing France (twice) and completing their schedule against England on August 27.

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