Tadhg Furlong’s solid form hits right note with Lions fans

Ireland forward says being serenaded with a chant devoted to him is ‘pretty cool’

 British and Irish Lions forward Tadhg Furlong in action during the final Test which ended in a 15-15 draw at Eden Park in Auckland. Photograph: Nigel Marple/Reuters

British and Irish Lions forward Tadhg Furlong in action during the final Test which ended in a 15-15 draw at Eden Park in Auckland. Photograph: Nigel Marple/Reuters

 

As has been mentioned in despatches, Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell among a host of others, and not only from Ireland, never had that winning feeling against the All Blacks. Now Tadhg Furlong’s ratio against them in five matches is 50-50; won two, drawn one, lost two. Not bad.

Akin to the first-named former Irish and Lions captain, and that waltzing O’Driscoll ditty adopted by the Red Army, so along with Maro Itoje the 24-year-old Wexford man has been serenaded with a chant devoted to him in recognition of his scrimmaging, big hits and extraordinary strength in the carry.

Tadhg Furlong, Furlong. He’s big and he’s f***ing strong. He’s right at the heart of the scrum, Tadhg Furlong, Furlong.”

He has, he revealed, been tweeted videos of the fans singing it.

“It’s pretty cool. Very humbling. It’s kind of hard to explain, having a song about you but it’s pretty cool seeing that on social media.”

So Furlong has another memento from a first tour of innumerable memories, and way more highs than he could have envisaged at the outset.

Intensive tour

“I’d probably struggle to pick out a moment in time or a special thing right now. What comes to mind is I thoroughly enjoyed Queenstown at the start of this week. Because being a Lions tour is so intensive and there is a lot of pressure hyped on you from week one or even from selection day really.

“Just to be able to get there, and I suppose get rugby off your mind in what has been an extremely long season, was really good and I probably felt a lot better for it training on Wednesday, Thursday and into the Test match this weekend.”

He has some tangible memories too, having emerged with a bottle of beer in his hand having just shared another with Joe Moody.

“It’s actually the sixth time I’ve played against Joe Moody this year. For southern and northern Hemisphere it’s pretty mad, isn’t it? Shared a beer with him, had a chat with him, he’s a good fella. Looking forward to not seeing him facing me in the scrum, not for the next little bit anyway. He’s a hell of a scrummager.

“I’ve got his Crusaders one and I got one in the second Test, so I’ve got three of his shirts, one from November. Three shirts in total. After every game, you pretty much swap so you have the Maori All Blacks, the Crusaders, a New Zealand one. I didn’t swap tonight so I would have got Joe last week.”

He has to undergo minor surgery on his thumb, but an exhausting season has been completed by an intense tour which, he admitted, was very tough in the first few weeks.

“But towards the end when you start tapering off and getting into Test matches, it became hugely enjoyable. It’s probably tinged with a small bit of disappointment tonight, that kind of weird feeling coming off after a draw in a Test series but overall I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and made some really good friends and buddies.”

Excruciating endgame

Furlong had to watch the last 20 minutes, and especially that excruciating endgame from the bench. “They were attacking our tryline, weren’t they? It went out and it was like, ‘What do we do now?’ You walk past the cup and you’re like ‘What happens here? What’s the craic with this? What’s going to happen?’. ‘Who’s going to lift it? Is it going to be a shared lift’, you know. ‘The fireworks are going to be an interesting one here, lads’. That probably runs through your head a little bit, yeah.”

Still only 24, Irish rugby has a diamond in Furlong, and this tour has assuredly polished him up some more.

“I think I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, I’ve been exposed to different coaching methods, players and ideas around the scrum and general field. From an experience point of view, I don’t think matches come much bigger than they do tonight, especially the occasion and pressure that’s on you; eyes from the four nations. I think I definitely grew within the tour.”

Well-earned holidays, admittedly of only 3½ weeks, now beckon, with nothing especially planned.

“I’ve probably seen enough of hotels and flights for a while. I have to get some minor sort of body stuff (his thumb) to look after when I go home, then chill out and see the craic. I probably will go off somewhere. I’m leaving it late to book, just clear the head, see family and friends. I probably don’t get home as much as I would like, so I’m looking forward to getting back.”

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