Tuesday 25 July 2017

Furlong keen to learn and improve with the Lions

Tadgh Furlong. Photo: Sportsfile
Tadgh Furlong. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

It is easy to forget sometimes that this is Tadhg Furlong's first full season as a Test match prop, not that his performances ever give it away.

Long touted as the favourite for the Lions No 3 jersey since his outstanding performances against New Zealand in November, the Campile native has fulfilled the expectation of making the squad and is simply soaking up as much as he can as the preparations hurtle towards Monday's departure.

He is rooming with a direct rival for that starting berth in England's Dan Cole, but rather than seeing it as a fight for a jersey he is embracing the opportunity to live with and learn from the best in the business.

"I'm working through Graham Rowntree, a small bit," Furlong explained at Carton House yesterday.

"In the situation with Leinster and Ireland, I came through the academy with Greg Feek, then he moved on to the Ireland job, then John Fogarty came in and he had a similar train of thought.

"So to get an outside influence I wouldn't have had before, a new set of eyes has been good for me.

"Graham has picked up a few little things, and given me some training tips I wouldn't have heard before, something about my bind, my head position on bind, little nuggets.

"Everyone's getting their head around the calls and working hard. We've put a lot of work under the belt this week and I'm feeling good for it now.

"So, yes, very competitive, because you're around the best rugby players in Britain and Ireland now. Everyone wants to put their stall out early.

"It's good everyone has been open, everyone has been honest, working for the betterment of the team and feeling comfortable with each other.

"The way you do things, the things that work for you, building relationships which is important, because you have to feel comfortable and they have to feel comfortable.

"There's no need for any sort of motivation, it's there on you already, it's a huge opportunity in front of us, one we're mad keen to crack on with.

"As a player, in an environment like this, you'd be a little bit mad if you didn't try to let it bring out the best in you."

The nature of the season means there is no time for players to stand back from their achievements and reflect; that will come in July.

But Furlong is aware of how far he has come in such a short time.

"I get small windows to do it (reflect) throughout the season," he said. "I had played a lot of rugby before this season, played a lot of rugby with Leinster, some rugby with Ireland, gone to a World Cup, had a bit of experience, but this year more than any other I got lot more starts in the No 3 jersey and got a load more minutes and that builds up your confidence.

"Trust is put on you and when you get that you can put minutes on minutes and be a better rugby player when you're playing that bit more consistently.

"So I've really enjoyed it. I'm probably still relatively young for a tighthead, but I think my game has come on a lot in the last year."

Irish Independent

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