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Friday 9 December 2016

Furlong the anchor man

Wexford tight-head praises Ross, the rival for his position

Tadhg Furlong: 'dark arts'
Tadhg Furlong: 'dark arts'

Tadhg Furlong, 23, and Mike Ross, 36, could be portrayed as 'The Odd Couple' of Irish rugby.

It shouldn't really come as a surprise given the nature of their work at tight-head prop for Leinster and Ireland, even though they are operating at different ends of the age spectrum.

"I get on well with Mike and I keep slagging him," said Furlong.

"Like, Rossy, you were born in the Seventies. I'm '92. You're two generations older!'.

"He's like, 'You're obsessed with my age, Tadhg. I'm fine!'

The residence of the front row in rugby requires a certain mental agility.

Quite simply, it is not a sanctuary for sane men.

"It's the dark arts and I suppose no-one really gets what we do, other than each other," said Furlong.

"We have a huge amount of respect for each other - tight-head, loose-head, hooker - so he's really good for bringing that group together."

What Ross has mastered is what Furlong needs to become an elite anchorman.

"The main thing would be the consistency in the scrum, what he brings every week," said the Wexford man.

The patchwork quilt of the pieces of the position are already in place from the 35 rucks Furlong hit against the Ospreys in 65 minutes with a 93pc effective impact rating.

The superior handling skills from his inter-county gaelic football and hurling past make him a ready option on the ball to carry, pass or offload as well as his defensive strength.

The consistency in controlling the scrum is all Furlong needs to be considered one of the best in his position.

Not just in Ireland. Between the British and Irish Isles - as Warren Gatland might refer to them.

"You look at someone like Rossy who has done it for so long," continued Furlong.

"I suppose he's so consistent in his scrum and coaches have that trust in him.

"They know he's always going to do a job because he's done it on the big stage. And he's done it so many times."

The generosity of spirit shown by one Cork man to half-of-another one - Furlong's mother Margaret comes from Whiddy Island - will eventually backfire.

The baton must pass from one generation to another sooner or later.

The time could be now.

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