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18th Jun 2018

‘He’s a 130-kilo flying missile’ – Tadhg Furlong’s epic clear-out goes global

Patrick McCarry

“I was proud of Pocock playing on after that.”

Tadhg Furlong has given David Pocock something to think about the next time he approaches an Irish ruck.

The Wallabies’ turnover machine was into double figures for poach attempts for the second week running, in Melbourne, but he did not do as much damage as he did in the First Test. The flanker secured two vital turnovers and slow down Irish ball on another couple of occasions but Ireland handled him so much better at AAMI Park.

A big part of the reason Pocock did not have it all his own way at the breakdown was Tadhg Furlong, who was named man-of-the-match by local broadcasters FOX Sports. Furlong made 38 metres off 12 carries, stuck eight tackles and scored a second half try in Ireland’s 26-21 victory.

Still, it was his 41st minute clear-out of Pocock that had most folks talking, with clips of the seismic moment featured in numerous TV news reports and went viral – fans in America, Australia, England, South Africa and beyond raving about it – on social media.

Former Ireland internationals Kevin McLaughlin and James Downey spoke in reverential tones about the Furlong “missile” on The Hard Yards [from 2:00 below].

This was my description of the clear-out:

“Just after half-time, about 60 seconds into the second half, Ireland had a nice break and Furlong, as he often does, showed up in a backline move. Ringrose got the ball, O’Mahony had a nice little offload as well and then Henshaw ran into contact.

“There was that man Pocock, again, about to go in for the poach. Out of nowhere, Furlong had him eyed up and just bounced him back, around a yard or so away from the ruck. He wasn’t the only one. In came charging Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose as well, and Conor Murray hopped in for good measure. Four boys cleared him out but Furlong did most of the damage and it was a real statement made by Ireland.”

McLaughlin, Downey and Hard Yards host Andy McGeady reflected on the sheer power and technique behind that epic clear-out:

KEV: “I said last week that once Pocock clamps on the ball, it is next to impossible to move him. I think he had about half a second, as you can see Furlong was accelerating towards the ruck and you’re like, ‘This is a turnover’.

“There is only one way to dislodge him and it is the way Furlong did it. He just absolutely melted him! I was proud of Pocock playing on after that. Tadhg hit him SO hard!

JAMES: “I’m sure he was questioning things and seeing a few stars afterwards. But you look at Furlong, before this, at The RDS had a couple of clear-outs. When you have that juggernaut coming at that pace, he’s not stopping. The thing is, it is perfectly timed.”

ANDY: “That’s key. If he gets the timing wrong… because there was a bit of fuss about that clear-out of Conway in the Munster match. If he does mis-time it, he’s going to get in trouble because he’s a big boy and he’s coming at pace.”

KEV: “He’s a 130-kilo missile, flying. The really impressive thing is how low he gets his hips. He’s travelling and speed and then he dips just before the contact. So he’s got really, really low and to maintain that power through a very low body height is incredible. That’s what makes him a really good scrummager as well.”

FOX Sports commentator Greg Clark was not the only awe-struck Aussie:

Following the game, Ireland fullback Rob Kearney described the clear-out as the best he has ever seen in his 13 seasons of professional rugby.

Kearney has shared pitches with some of the fiercest competitors the game has had to offer for well over a decade. High and well-deserved praise.