Lion-hearted Tadhg Furlong eager to maintain high standards
There are plenty of aspects of Tadhg Furlong's career that you could use to highlight the remarkable progress that he has made in such a short period of time but for the player himself, one stands out from the rest.
Throughout the Six Nations campaign, the 24-year-old was repeatedly tipped to make the Lions tour but the manner in which he batted away the notion suggested that he genuinely didn't think it was on the cards.
"Coming into the season, I was starting behind Mike Ross," he reminds us.
"To get that chance and I suppose come out of Rossy's shadow, and it's a huge shadow, he made such a huge contribution to Irish rugby and Leinster rugby, I think I did all right.
"If someone was to say to you that you're going to go on a Lions tour, it seems like a massive amount of work to get there.
"I probably didn't see the link there and I still didn't see it probably until the end of the Six Nations. It doesn't change how you play or think at all, you just say that I might be in the frame."
Praise From a personal point of view, the Lions tour couldn't have gone much better for Furlong but the Wexford native still finds it tough to accept the praise that has been heaped on him in this part of the world and in New Zealand.
However, it does mean that the standards that Furlong now demands of himself and those around him are much higher than they were at this point last year.
"I think you're just exposed to a really, really high standard of player around you," he maintains.
"You probably get used to that sort of standard where you expect that of other people.
"You see a lineout and how good a jumper and lifter are, the throw, the quickness of it, the crispness of it, it might be hard to accept anything other than that.
"You see different aspects of the game in a higher light than I would have seen them before. It drives on the standards that you expect of yourself and others."
Like the rest of his Leinster and Lions team-mates, Furlong isn't due to return to action until round five or six of the Guinness PRO14, which means that he misses the first pre-season game in Perpignan this evening.
He is already eager to return, however, and having fully stepped out of Ross' shadow, there is only one thing on his mind now.
"I've never won anything in the professional game which coming from a club like Leinster with our tradition, Ireland with their tradition of back-to-back Six Nations, Grand Slam 2009, I've never tasted any of that. I want to be successful as I can be and I want to help the team as best I can." Tadhg Furlong was speaking at the launch of Leinster's new Canterbury home kit