GORDON D’ARCY AND Brian O’Driscoll will kick off their 10th season as Ireland’s first-choice centre partnership this Saturday and break a world record in the process.
The Leinster duo will start in the Irish midfield, against Wales, for the 48th time.
They made their first appearance at inside [D'Arcy] and outside [O'Driscoll] centre on 22 February 2004 against the Welsh at Lansdowne Road.
Ireland were comfortable winners that day and O’Driscoll was on the scoresheet. A repeat performance would be most welcome by Irish supporters on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium.
The D’Arcy and O’Driscoll combination was de rigueur by the time current Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip made his international debut, in 2006.
“It’s amazing,” he told TheScore.ie.
“Maybe we should let them walk onto the pitch holding hands; have a ceremony for them.” Heaslip added:
It’s an incredible achievement for them and a testament to both players; how well they work individually and as a team. When you back that up with how often they have played at Leinster together, it’s amazing.
“They must know each other so well, it’s ridiculous.”
While D’Arcy has been in a rich vein of form over the past two months, O’Driscoll is just three games into a comeback from an ankle injury.
His injury niggles [O'Driscoll missed last year's Six Nations] were one of the main factors Declan Kidney cited when he kept Heaslip on as Irish captain.
“The dynamic between me and him hasn’t changed at all,” Heaslip insisted.
I doubt he’s going to talk any less. We’ve got a lot of guys in the squad that are not afraid to voice their opinion. That’s the way it has been for a couple of years now.
“I’ve been captain of Brian at Leinster and I know well that he talks, regardless, like everyone else.”
“I’m sure he’s going to be quite focused on his job and what he brings to the game.”
*Wales v Ireland kicks off at 1:30pm on Saturday and TheScore.ie will be reporting on all the live action.