Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy has been called into the Lions’ squad as Ian McGeechan wants more depth in the backs.
Riki Flutey injured his knee in Saturday’s tour opener and a few other players are carrying various niggles from that fixture. As a result, D’Arcy will fly out of Ireland immediately and join the squad for the remainder of the tour.
‘Gordon has been called up due to the fact that we have had a few injury concerns in the backs,’ said McGeechan. ‘While the injuries are being treated by the medical team we felt it prudent that we call up Gordon to provide us with extra cover in midfield.
‘Due to the short nature of this tour we have to be prepared for every eventuality. An extra back at this stage, three matches into the tour, will provide the extra depth to cover the existing injuries plus any further injuries we may encounter.’
D’Arcy has long been a key player for Ireland and forms a crucial partnership in midfield with Brian O’Driscoll. He was a shock omission when the squad was initially announced, but his form has made the decision to pick him that much easier.
‘Gordon showed in the European Rugby Cup final and the recent Barbarians match against England that he is back to his best,’ said McGeechan. ‘He was on our reserve list and we had no hesitation in calling him up to the squad as he is an extremely experienced player who has played 41 times for his country.’
D’Arcy toured New Zealand with the 2005 Lions where he played six provincial matches. He earned a Lions’ Test cap in the match against Argentina in Cardiff prior to that tour.
‘His partnership with Brian O’Driscoll for Leinster and Ireland is a proven one and can only benefit the Lions’ squad here in South Africa,’ added McGeechan.
Don’t be surprised if the Irish duo start in tandem come the Test series.