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Tadhg Furlong 'a very proud representative of New Ross' after Ireland debut

Furlong’s first cap was also a first for his club.

TADHG FURLONG WOULD have ‘thought you were cracked’ if you suggested 12 months ago that he would now be an Ireland international.

He might have even said the same thing one month ago.

Tadgh Furlong Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After an incredibly impressive season for Leinster in an otherwise disappointing campaign, the Wexford man was hit with an awful start to pre-season training this summer. The 22-year-old suffered a thigh injury in the first week back to work training and was ruled out until, well, today.

“You’re trying to get back from injury and then you’re put in an environment where it looks like you’re going to be on the bench at the weekend,” Furlong said underneath the Aviva stands after his debut ended in a 10 – 16 defeat to Wales.

“That ramps up then. So you’re after not doing much rugby specific stuff, you’re not scrummaging or training (fully) since May.”

For all the hurdles sent his way before today’s Rugby World Cup warm-up, Furlong acquitted himself remarkably well and played a big part in Ireland’s late onslaught that came agonisingly close to sneaking a late win.

Jordi Murphy, Tadhg Furlong and Paul O'Connell runs at James King Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I was only approaching fitness this week. The way things went in the squad with injuries I was lucky to get the nod for the today. I haven’t done a massive amount of rugby-specific stuff, but I was happy with how I plodded around the field.”

If Furlong was happy, then then his home town had every right to be ecstatic as New Ross RFC provided their first international to the Test arena. Being the pride of the parish isn’t always easy though, it ups the ante in an already intense situation. Yet the young prop is well able to put the blinkers on and knuckle down to the task at hand.

I was inundated with texts from some of the older lads in the club and some of the current players as well. A very proud representative of New Ross.

He added: “You’ve a lot of weight on your shoulders, getting texts all week congratulating you. It’s a lot to chew on at the start of the week, but you start to get your head around it and approach it as any other game. That’s what I tried to do.”

That’s what he has made a good habit of. So while he would have laughed at anyone who predicted his international debut for him, he certainly doesn’t feel it has come too soon. He is built for bruising Test matches.

“I’d tell you yo were cracked if you told me I’d be in this situation (this time last year) but I worked hard for it. I worked hard with Leinster all the way through the season and I ended up playing all but two games in the season last year.”

That pride in his work never ventures to anything like over-confidence. Furlong is a model pro, but a realist taking each step along the road as it comes. If a call for Joe Schmidt’s Rugby World Cup squad happens to come tomorrow, great. If the Kiwi opts for more experienced men, he can see the logic.

Tadhg Furlong makes his international debut Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I suppose if you’re being realistic about it, I don’t have much form coming in to the selection process. I’ve 25 minutes and one cap now. I’ve been injured through a lot of the pre-season, so if they told me they were reasons they’re not selecting me, I could understand it, but I’d obviously love to get the call-up and represent my country another few times.”

If the call doesn’t come this weekend, he can expect plenty of them in the not-too-distant future.

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Sean Farrell

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