Sport

Sunday 17 December 2017

Lions prop Furlong expects 'brutal' New Zealand encounter in series decider

Tadhg Furlong is expecting a bruising encounter with New Zealand in their series decider this weekend
Tadhg Furlong is expecting a bruising encounter with New Zealand in their series decider this weekend

Tadhg Furlong has warned the British and Irish Lions to prepare for the "most brutal" Test match of their careers in Saturday's series decider with New Zealand.

Ireland prop Furlong fully expects a furious backlash from a New Zealand side bound to be stung by the Lions' 24-21 victory in Saturday's second Test.

The Lions edged home in Wellington thanks to tries from Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray and Owen Farrell's last-gasp penalty, while Sonny Bill Williams was sent off for the hosts.

New Zealand slugged past Ireland 21-9 in Dublin on November 19 last year, avenging their 40-29 Chicago defeat from two weeks earlier.

Furlong featured in both matches and now expects a repeat of that fervour from the wounded All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.

"When your pride is a little dented, you come out and you'll be absolutely bulling for it," said Furlong, with the Lions series in the balance at one win apiece.

"You've got to get your detail right, be physically and emotionally at that pitch where you can compete and then try to go toe to toe.

"That match in Dublin, I remember coming off the pitch and being absolutely shattered. I was sore for days afterwards.

"It was one of the most brutal Test matches I've played in my short career.

"So we all expect to have the same thing again. And we've got to tee ourselves up for it."

Ireland registered their first-ever win over the All Blacks in 111 years of trying in that stunning Soldier Field triumph back in November.

Joe Schmidt's men were then overpowered in a ruthless display of muscle-flexing by the back-to-back world champions in the rematch in Dublin.

Sam Cane wiped out Robbie Henshaw with a head-high shoulder hit and was merely penalised, while Malakai Fekitoa was sin-binned for a dangerous hit on Simon Zebo.

Steve Hansen's All Blacks certainly unleashed plenty of latent rage at the Aviva Stadium and Furlong knows the Lions must now steel themselves for a brutal onslaught.

Asked if two wins over the All Blacks in eight months dims New Zealand's aura, Furlong insisted the Lions must stay wary this week.

The All Blacks will chase a 40th match unbeaten at Eden Park this weekend, while the Lions will bid to complete only their second-ever series win in New Zealand.

"I think you always fear the All Blacks in the way that if you don't get your stuff sorted, if you don't man up and meet them head on head it's a tough day at the office," said Furlong.

"If that doesn't happen they'll cut you to ribbons in the wider channels if you give them that sort of space.

"They can score a try from anywhere they're that dangerous, they've threats all over the park.

"If none of that works they're just so damn consistent, good at holding on to the ball. They're a tough team to beat.

"You have to keep attacking them, but it's easier said than done."

Furlong's parents Margaret and James jetted out to watch the second Test in Wellington, with the Leinster prop admitting his father was riveted by the flight.

Furlong relishes in regaling tales of his dad's exploits, mainly around his refusal to buy a mobile phone - and could not resist another morsel.

"Dad spent 14 hours looking at the screen that shows how far the plane has travelled," said Furlong.

"My mother said he watched that thing for the whole time. As soon as he jumped on he was straight on that. He wouldn't watch a movie or anything.

"So he's in good spirits, he's happy to be out of the air at the minute.

"He's bouncing around mixing and mingling, which is what he does best, I'd say!"

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