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Thursday 17 August 2017

Tight-head titan Furlong 'Counsels' from confidence ahead of Scotland

Tadhg Furlong Picture: Sportsfile
Tadhg Furlong Picture: Sportsfile

"Come on The Counsel! Come on The Counsel!" came the loud refrain from the smiling Tadhg Furlong.

Ireland's tight-head prop showed up at his alma-mater's Vinnie Murray Senior Cup quarter-final to lend his voice to the argument.

"You'll say a few words to the lads, won't you?" asked Helen Bolger from the New Ross school.

"Ah, I don't know. You know me, I can't keep a straight face."

"Ah, go on, you will," she said.

Furlong carried his smile all the way from the back pitch to the dressing-room door in Donnybrook.

He paused for a moment and walked in.

"Listen, I want you to sow it into these lads," began the challenge from a different kind of man.

Two weeks later, the usually affable Furlong has his game face back on out in Carton House.

There is a time for play and there is a time to play.

The pressure must weigh down on even his hefty shoulders.

So you would think: "I don't know if I feel pressure," he said.

"It sounds boring and repetitive. But, the way it is you just focus on your own job, your own role what you can contribute to the team, doing your basics well.

"If you get ahead of yourself in this environment, you would be cut down pretty soon.

"You put in the groundwork early in the week and work up to test match intensity."

All the chat about Furlong for The British & Irish Lions is one bad campaign away from vanishing as quickly as it has been whispered.

"When you have weeks like this, it is a big enough occasion in itself," he said, in an attempt to defuse any ambition to reach for The Lions.

"There is so much on your mind, so many things to get right.

"You don't have time to think about anything else really."

Prospects

Furlong's prospects really took off in South Africa last summer.

"I learned a lot from that tour, especially coming to the end of the season, playing three big games away from home.

"It gives you confidence to launch yourself into the new season."

The curve has been consistently upward ever since.

There was the tumult of Chicago and the Aviva in November.

There was the Champions Cup before and after.

"I am a lot more experienced than I was, if you were talking to me this time last year, going into the Wales game.

"In the grand scheme of things, I still have a lot to learn. That is natural for a 24 year-old tight-head.

"It is dangerous if you start thinking you have this whole thing figured out because I definitely don't."

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