Saturday 23 March 2019

Sea of green spurred Irish team on - Furlong

Tadhg Furlong in action against Romania at the World Cup
Tadhg Furlong in action against Romania at the World Cup

David Looby

Tadhg Furlong has thanked the people of the New Ross district for their support during the Rugby World Cup, describing the experience of being in the Ireland camp as 'incredible'.

Having gotten 15 minutes of play against Romania, Furlong is now hungry for more.

His selection for the Ireland senior rugby team to play in the World Cup by coach Joe Schmidt came as no surprise to his former coaches at New Ross Rugby Club, who marked him out for success when he was a boy of ten.

Furlong said: 'It was a great experience. Obviously we're all very disappointed with how it finished in the end. It's something you would hope would stand to you.'

Furlong, 22, from Campile, got amazing support across the district, with his former club, New Ross RFC, former schools, Horeswood NS and Good Counsel College, New Ross Municipal District and businesses across the district, all organising massive displays and images of support for Furlong.

'There's no room on my mother's mantelpiece with all the cards. It's crazy the amount of Irish support we had. I was getting a lot of text messages. Obviously it was very encouraging. Any of the stadiums we played it was 70 to 80 per cent Irish and the amount of people on the streets, it was incredible. We know a lot of people spent a lot of money to get over there to support us and that is very humbling to us.'

On the quarter final defeat to Argentina, Furlong said: 'We thought we were in a good place going into the game. We didn't underestimate Argentina, but losing some key players in key positions like Paul O'Connell and Johnny Sexton was a factor. The lads went out and did their best but Argentina were better on the day.'

Furlong relished getting to play for 15 minutes against Romania, coming on to huge applause in his No 18 shirt with captain Paul O'Connell.

He said the atmosphere in the packed crowd of 89,267 people was electric. 'It was loud and it was exciting. It was deadly.'

Furlong was straight back into games with Leinster, against Glasgow and Treviso, having returned with the Irish team days after the defeat to Argentina.

'It's a busy run of games with Leinster. We have a very sharp turn around with the start of the Champions Cup.'

Furlong welcomed the appointment of Leo Cullen as Head Leinster Coach, saying everyone in the team has great respect for him.

'Leo is very fair and very open and he always talks to you about what you need to do to improve your game. He has captained the team to many titles and everyone has a huge amount of respect for him.'

Furlong said the highlight of the tournament for him was being around players like Paul O'Connell and Rory Best, players he was never on tour with before.

'It was my first time out of the country with them and to see how they trained and the extra work they put in was a real learning curve. Paul is Mr Ireland over the last ten years. He has captained the country and has 108 caps. He is a huge leader and a great bloke off the pitch. It was great to be around him and to learn from him.'

Furlong was seen by a record number of TV viewers, beside O'Connell in the box, as Ireland crashed out to Argentina.

He said the atmosphere in the Ireland camp throughout the tournament was 'unreal', especially after the France win.

'I would just like to thank everyone in New Ross and across the county for their support. I love representing my local area. I spent most of my life in the county so to represent these people and people who coached me from a young age, makes me very proud.'

New Ross Standard