herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Furlong: Too early for talk of Lions call-up

Tadhg Furlong
Tadhg Furlong

Tadhg Furlong has admitted feeling "embarrassed" by being tipped to win selection for next summer's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Ireland completed a 2016 clean sweep over the southern hemisphere's big three with Saturday's nailbiting 27-24 victory over Australia in Dublin.

The increasingly-influential Furlong has catapulted himself to the front of the queue for the Lions' No 3 shirt next summer with a string of fine November performances. But the 24-year-old Wexford native has insisted he feels a "big, big step" away from the Lions picture.

"It's kind of daunting, to be honest with you," said prop Furlong. "Because you know in your own head that 'jeez, my scrum wasn't great there' or 'my entry wasn't great here, and if I do this against a really great scrummaging pack, I'm going to be torn apart here'.

"And with people throwing that out, you get kind of embarrassed. 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 and I've only started four games for Ireland, two Heineken Cup games for Leinster and it is a big, big step to be making those shouts."

England's Dan Cole, Wales' Samson Lee and Scotland's WP Nel will all be in the mix for the Lions but Furlong has emerged as the standout tighthead across Ireland's autumn series.

His bullish ball-carrying, his unyielding drive and smart set-piece work have helped Ireland move their tight game on still further under Joe Schmidt and forwards coach Simon Easterby.

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