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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 15 May 2021

Fines, Fukuoka and fried chicken cartilage - Furlong enjoying delights of Japan

The tighthead prop is set to return for Ireland against Samoa on Saturday.

TADHG FURLONG IS keen to see Garry Ringrose step up a little more.

Not with his rugby – which has been outstanding at this World Cup – but instead in his duties as a member of Ireland’s in-squad disciplinary committee.

Furlong, Ringrose, and Rob Kearney are the trio in charge of dishing out fines to team-mates whenever they fall short of squad standards. It’s all good fun but Furlong wants to see a bit more of Ringrose’s harsh side.

“I think Garry needs a bit more cut in him,” says Furlong with a smile. “He is so nice and polite and stuff. Get the finger out, Garry, come on!

tadhg-furlong Furlong at Ireland's team hotel in Fukuoka. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s not punishments, to be fair, it’s just about a bit of squad enjoyment and trying to get a kitty together to do stuff as a squad. There’s nothing overly harsh.”

How is Kearney doing in his role?

“He can lash it out, yeah,” confirms Furlong. “He is a ruthless enough character!”

Furlong has been enjoying the trip around Japan with Ireland, even if there was real frustration in his last outing on the pitch against the hosts as Joe Schmidt’s side suffered their shock defeat.

He describes Tokyo as “just a little bit mad for me, now, just a little bit busy” but found Ireland’s retreat to the Shizuoka countryside before the Japan game more to his taste: “I enjoyed that, even seeing a bit of grass again.”

The Leinster tighthead felt Ireland’s two days off last weekend here in Fukuoka were ideally timed after an intense period for their first three games, which involved six-day and five-day turnarounds.

“This is what I’d like in a city, where it’s not mad. It’s pretty chilled. You can potter around, it’s easy to find your way around. It’s not a jungle, y’know?”

As ever, the local food has been of chief interest to Furlong and his team-mates.

“I went to a really good steak restaurant… Japanese food is lovely lads, but it’s nice to get a nice bit of steak as well. It was top-notch, a tiny little place. It reminds me of the Butcher’s Grill in Ranelagh.

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conor-murray-tadhg-furlong-and-rob-kearney-during-the-anthems Furlong is excited to get back on the pitch on Saturday against Samoa. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“You go through the front door and you’ve to stoop down to get into it. They cook up a load of Wagyu beef, bring out the board and they cook it in front of you with an open fire. It’s lovely.”

Furlong hasn’t tried Fukuoka’s famous ‘yatai’ yet – essentially, open-air food stalls that line certain streets every evening – and says Google Translate helped him to dodge a close call with a dish of fried chicken cartilage.

“I’m all for embracing the culture, but that’s a bit much for me,” laughs Furlong.

Ireland and their tighthead have been firmly back into rugby mode this week, however, preparing for Saturday’s clash with Samoa, which is set to go ahead as scheduled after the change of forecast for Typhoon Hagibis.

Furlong believes Ireland’s best is yet to come at this World Cup but he underlines that they will give Samoa the respect they deserve.

“They’re big boys and they’re quite impressive in the tight. In terms of some of their ball-carrying threats, their presence over the ball in terms of their attack, they have a fair bit of flair out wide and dangerous runners if they get it to them.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge for us and for the forward pack and front five especially to try to get on the front foot

“You put yourself in their shoes and think about what they are thinking and it is their last game in the World Cup: they have a lot to prove.”

- This article was updated at 2.02am to correct ‘Russia’ to ‘Japan’ in the sub-heading.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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