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Thursday 25 May 2017

Furlong playing a waiting game

Ireland prop pushes importance of qualification over Montpellier

Tadhg Furlong of Leinster
Tadhg Furlong of Leinster

Tight-head props are worth their weight in gold. That's a lot of loot when it comes to Tadhg Furlong.

Ireland's most valuable piece of 'pure Wexford beef' is in the box seat when it comes to entering into contract discussions with the IRFU.

His problem is that his current contract takes him up to the summer of 2018.

Their problem is the longer they wait to extend, the more it will cost them.

By then, the financial package the IRFU will have to put together might have to be hefty enough to satisfy a British and Irish Lions test tight-head.

For all of the durability and reliability of John Hayes and Mike Ross, neither could claim the rare combination of deceptive athleticism and superior skills apparent in Furlong's game.

The level of his impact in the Autumn had to be seen to be believed.

Who will forget that explosive carry and the 'rag doll' treatment of Brodie Retallick and Kieran Read?

"You take a bit of confidence from playing those games," he said.

There must have been an avalanche of interest from the clubs with the deepest pockets around Europe.

Not so apparently: "I haven't (heard), to be honest.

"Maybe the agent has, but it hasn't filtered back to me if there has been any interest.

Contract

"The way it works is that you don't go looking until the contract comes or maybe you don't go looking if you are happy here.

"That's the way it has been for me. I certainly haven't poked my neck out because I am under contract until the next year."

This is where the virtues and vices of the waiting game come into play.

Should Furlong keep delivering for Leinster and Ireland this season, he will be a red-hot favourite to be the first-choice Lions prop.

A national contract would ensue from the IRFU at a conservative estimate of €500,000 per season.

Before all of that can happen, Furlong has to keep taking care of business with his province.

"Last year was tough, coming back from the World Cup and lads getting thrown straight back into Europe.

"There wasn't a massive amount of time in the saddle as a collective unit.

"It is nearly forgotten that we got to a PRO12 final last year and topped the league."

The transformation from European also-rans to frontrunners means Furlong alternates between two positive environments.

"The place is buzzing here as well so it is easy to come straight back into the environment. It is really enjoyable."

It all continues at home to mighty Montpellier on Friday night.

"They are a really well resourced, physical team," he said. "We know if we win we have a quarter-final place booked and we top the group.

"It is a huge test physically. It is a big game for the club, especially with how we went last year."

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