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Saturday 21 October 2017

Anchorman Furlong recognises this is knockout duel

Tight-head Tadhg Furlong
Tight-head Tadhg Furlong

Tight-head Tadhg Furlong is the Ron Burgundy of Irish rugby.

He is our 'Anchorman' and about as straight-a-shooter as you will find.

The won one, lost one, returns from the first two rounds already has Ireland sitting, waiting on death row, in terms of winning the Six Nations.

It is not all over yet. They will look for a reprieve against France and then move on to Wales and, beyond that, England.

"We know it's knockout rugby," he said.

"We realise that if we lose another game that the Six Nations will be very hard or impossible to win.

"That in itself is knockout rugby."

The fact Ireland have two out of the three at the Aviva Stadium makes their hard target more achievable. Certainly, when it comes to the scrum, the most macho of men-on-men battles have to hurt more when you go backwards in your own house.

"It's tough to take no matter where it happens," said Furlong about the personal experience of anchoring a sinking scrum.

"As a prop, tight-head, front rower, it's never nice when it happens. There are times it will happen. You'll have good days. You'll have bad days. It's about learning as well.

"At home, it probably (hurts) a small bit more on a huge occasion like that."

Ireland have dominated Scotland and Italy at the scrum whereas France have destroyed England and Scotland.

It is the fascinating face-off between the technique of David and the power of Goliath.

"We just try to get good ball to play off really, try to paint good pictures for the referee and try to stay as straight as we can," said the 24 year-old.

The Leinstermen in Ireland's front row have come across the French strategy already this season in Europe.

"Castres scrummage in a vey similar way," said Furlong.

"They wouldn't have the personnel to execute as well as France do. It is a real challenge in itself."

It could just be the area that turns the game.

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