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Furlong keeps his Leinster dreams well anchored


Tadhg Furlong

Tadhg Furlong

Tadhg Furlong

Leinster's Tadhg Furlong (pictured, right) is in no rush. Tight-heads rarely are.

"I'll just keep my head down and keep working away. I'm sure I'll get there."

Where? At Leinster? For Ireland? Will it be both?

"I think if you ask any young player they'd tell you they'd love to be in that category of starting tight-head for Leinster," he said.

"I know I have a long way to go. I want to get there. I believe if I put my head down and keep working hard, if it's five years time even, I want to get there and I'm confident that I will."

This is the kind of level-headed thinking that should not be confused with a lack of confidence.

It wasn't that long ago Leinster coach Matt O'Connor estimated Furlong would need 20 appearances before the province could get a proper gauge on where he stands with Mike Ross and Martin Moore.

"It is a slowly burning thing," said the Wexford man about his learning curve.

The 22-year-old has collected 19 Leinster caps in two seasons, four as a starter this term, all of them coming in his last five outings.

Leinster's previous scrum coach Greg Feek did not want to throw him to the front row sharks until he was ready. The new man Marco Caputo has taken the same line and there is real, carefully plotted progress.

"Confidence is good. I suppose I never really got lit up in a scrum," he reviewed.

"Against Wasps this year, I probably struggled a small bit, but they have a very good scrum.

"You can't get too down if you have a bad day because it effects you mentally. You have to just keep tipping away and understand that you have a long way to go."

The thing about Furlong is that he has what most tight-heads don't, the hands of a footballer, a quick mind and a feel for the game.

It is all about becoming that anchorman O'Connor is looking for as the New Year beckons.