Wednesday 18 September 2019

From video nasty to star of the show - Ireland coach Greg Feek on Tadhg Furlong's remarkable rise

"At least he can turn the camera on now"

Tadhg Furlong speaking during an Ireland rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Tadhg Furlong speaking during an Ireland rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

TADHG Furlong recorded the grisly evidence of Ireland's last meeting with Argentina – when Joe Schmidt's crashed out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage.

An unused substitute, the Wexford Lion was in the stands with Ireland's collection of wounded heroes as the depleted team succumbed to the rampaging Pumas.

Furlong's role was to provide an alternative picture of the scrum engagements to those displayed by TV broadcasters – however, most of the analysis was probably dumped in the bin along with Ireland's William Webb Ellis hopes.

“He's got to the point that he's managed to turn the camera on now!” laughed scrum coach Greg Feek yesterday.

Two years on, Furlong has announced himself as a global star following his impact during the summer Lions tour to New Zealand.

Now, the cameras are trained on him as they will be once more this Saturday when he aims to take revenge upon the Pumas as Ireland bid for a November Guinness Series clean sweep against Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

“It wasn't for personal use!” laughs Furlong; many thought he was recording a tourist's diary.

“To be fair, it was for the scrum. On the TV, you only get to see one side of the scrum. So we have a scrum cam showing us the other side of it.

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“Usually, the spare front row is shafted with a camera in the stand. I wasn't that great doing it at first. The first few times, the hand is very shaky.”

Clearly, he is better on the other side of the screen.

“In terms of his video work, he's come a long way but more so in his rugby obviously,” says Feek.

“He covered a little bit of loose-head before the World Cup against England. He has so much aggression and energy. He can run all day and talk all day!

“It's contagious. He loves seeing his team-mates doing something well, he is the first to run to them to say well done.

“He is very astute about the game, he has the hunger to learn and he knows that he wants to keep building on the last two years.

“All the top players feel uncomfortable at the top level, they want to get better and he is no different.

“He can bring information from off the field and develop it on the field. He asks for feedback, the top players are not afraid to get that and Tadhg soaks that up. That's character and his upbringing. “Some players are defensive but he is wiling to take a gamble because they know the rewards are that.

“He is big and powerful and with that energy his fitness has got better and better.

Feek also praised the resurgence of Cian Healy, who is pushing hard for a start in this week's final November series against Argentina.

“Cian Healy deserves all the credit. He is a very determined individual, he is passionate about playing and loves being involved in the big matches.

“In Japan on tour, he just started taking charge, he talked and everyone listened. He had big injuries and that can test you as a player in terms of resilience no matter who you are. I admire what he has done and he deserves to give himself most credit.

“He understands what his body needs and he is probably lighter now than before. As you get older, you work things out like nutrition, gym stuff and sleep, all those aspects add up.

“Those injuries were tough and sometimes as a coach you want to help and you are helpless.”

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