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Lions call up Irish D'Arcy against South Africa

IRELAND center Gordon D'Arcy was called up to the British and Irish Lions squad yesterday to add some flair and experience to a squad which is considered a huge underdog against world champion South Africa.

One of the stars of Ireland's long-awaited Six Nations triumph and a try scored for the Barbarians against England on Saturday, D'Arcy was initially left out of Ian McGeechan's lineup. He joins up today with a chance of facing the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

"Due to the short nature of this tour we have to be prepared for every eventuality," McGeechan said in Johannesburg yesterday. "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.

"Gordon showed in the European Rugby Cup final (for Leinster) and the recent Barbarians match against England that he is back to his best. 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."

D'Arcy, whose partnership with Brian O'Driscoll has helped Ireland's revival, also was on the 2005 tour of New Zealand. He was out of rugby after breaking an arm in 2008 but has returned to form to help Leinster win the European Cup, and Ireland capture the Nations title for the first time in 25 years and first grand slam since 1948.

The Lions, who were facing the Golden Lions at Ellis Park later yesterday in their second tour game, lost Wales center Tom Shanklin to a shoulder injury before the tour started and have several players, including centers Keith Earls and Riki Flutey, nursing minor problems. They were injured when the Lions beat a Royal XV 37-24 in their opening game last Saturday after trailing by 12 points.

The Lions face world champion South Africa in three tests.


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