Tadhg Furlong 'embarrassed' by Lions link as he nit-picks another huge performance in green

The 24-year-old with just two European Cup starts cemented his place as Ireland’s premier tighthead this month.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

TADHG FURLONG THINKS he only has to point to his appearance record to dampen down the excitement around his brilliant international performances this year.

He’s wrong, of course.

“I’ve only started four games for Ireland, two or three Heineken Cup (sic) games for Leinster and it is a big, big step to be making those shouts.”

The shouts he’s referring to are the growing calls for his inclusion in Warren Gatland’s Lions squad. Having just turned 24 this month, he has quickly turned himself from being a useful impact option to a complete international grade tighthead in the space of little over a year.

Gatland has surely taken notice, and he will pay attention to the Wexford man’s attitude too. Because Furlong can’t get his head around being touted for next summer’s big tour, his focus is only on improving his game by picking out the few areas he believes he was poor in.

“It’s kind of daunting in a way, to be honest with you. Because, you know, in a way (I’m thinking) that:

‘Jeez, my scrum wasn’t great there’. Or, ‘my entry wasn’t great.’ And, ‘if I do this against a really great scrummaging pack, I’m going to be torn apart here’.

“That is your thought process and, with people throwing that out, you get kind of embarrassed. You know, the Lions is synonymous with such a big brand and so many great players have played there.

“Do I see myself there at the minute? No. I think I have a long journey to go.”

In a way, he’s dead right. There is a Six Nations ahead, and months of form and fitness to keep up. But having faced and defeated all three of the big southern hemisphere powers in the last six months, the road is shorter than Furlong thinks.

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Dean Mumm tackles Tadhg Furlong Sign of a good tighthead: The only shot of Furlong tonight the moment Dean Mumm drove him into the turf. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

“I’ve really enjoyed (November). It was great to be part of a group that beat New Zealand for the first time. We played well, but no-one likes to be second best, in the second game.

“To get the win we did tonight, in the circumstances we did, has been really really enjoyable. Hopefully it is a stepping stone, going forward, but I am under no illusions that you are only one bad scrum performance away from being torn apart.

“I’m 24 and I’m not naive enough to think that won’t happen ever. It’s just trying to minimise the affect it has when I do have a tough day at the office.”

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Sean Farrell

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