Monday 11 December 2017

Ben Arous out to hurt Ireland as Furlong seizes chance

Ireland's Tadhg Furlong will take to the pitch at some point this weekend. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
Ireland's Tadhg Furlong will take to the pitch at some point this weekend. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Tadhg Furlong will take to the field at some stage this weekend - nothing suggests Nathan White will not be afforded another starting sting - and he will know that if Eddy Ben Arous is leaving at the same time, Ireland could be in a good place.

The Wexford youngster is merely forging his international reputation; Ben Arous, 25, is trying to help France rediscover theirs.

"We want revenge because it has been so many years since we won against Ireland," France's loosehead declares. "We remember the group match in the World Cup and that's why we particularly want revenge now."

Furlong, aiming to win just his fifth cap this weekend as Mike Ross prepares to recuperate with Leinster, is forewarned. "He's dangerous and he's lively. He has a wicked step on him and a good hand-off, very dangerous over the ball, and he's lightning quick.

"He's a really good athlete for a loosehead. I suppose he goes against that general prop mode. There doesn't look like there's a pick on him. At scrum time he's very dangerous. He's obviously very explosive and he's a big man, so he's definitely up there.

"From what I've seen, and I can only judge it on the one game last weekend which they had, he stayed pretty square. They've a big angle coming across from their tight-head Rabah Slimani, and he's very good there, so we have to try and work to negate that."

Furlong could, of course, start; "Obviously I'd love to start for my country. If I'm given a shot or not, that's another option, I don't know. All I can focus on is every minute that I'm on the pitch that I put my foot forward as best I can."

Whether they clash individually or not, Ben Arous is determined that his side attack Furlong's men with a ferocity he felt was lacking last weekend against Italy.

"On the tactical aspect, there are flaws," the Racing Metro man adds. "But we had no reference match, and now we do. The match against Italy will allow us to work. We have to respect the positions, the lines, and we were a bit lost. This week, we have worked on it to change course. There was also a lack of desire and aggression to hurt the opponent. We must improve that too. We want to win the Grand Slam. We need to fight and I say fight because that is a major part of beating the opposition."

France will be at home; Furlong, despite his inexperience at this level, already feels at home. Last weekend, one of the replacement's first acts was to step in at scrum-half, deep in his own 22.

"I suppose I would have been nervous if it had been a 15-metre pass, but I was lucky that CJ Stander was only about two metres away," he smiles. "That settled me down a small bit. I suppose it's something I've been comfortable with. I did a lot of skills with under-age systems, through the youths and clubs, and then in the Leinster sub-academy/Academy.

"We were defending for a lot of the time I was on the park. You just try to fit into the system, be prepared to work hard and do your job. Getting to this level, getting a chance last weekend, it spurs you on to try to stay here."

Irish Independent

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