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26th Jul 2023

“You have to prove it all over again” – Tadhg Furlong ready to start from the bottom

Patrick McCarry

Tadhg Furlong

“You’re all GPS-ed up, so it’s all kind of monitored.”

We are catching up with Tadhg Furlong on his week away from Ireland’s World Cup training camp. Some players have headed for home, others abroad for sun, but the work and preparations continue.

“You’ve three runs to do and, and two or three gym sessions to do and you’re all GPS-ed up, so it’s all kind of monitored,” Furlong tells us.

“But that apart, when you’re done training, you’re done, so you can do whatever you want. Some of the boys are away, or what have you. So, it’s up to yourself, really, to get to work on. Once it’s done, it’s done and then off you go. Get the work done and go off and enjoy yourself; do what you want to do.”

Furlong, who is helping to promote a new Tackle Your Feeling schools programme, says Ireland are not rewriting any scripts in their pre-season training. “We’re just trying to get better at what we do. So, we see a heap of potential, still, in the squad and it’s just trying to nail that down.”

Ireland split their four World Cup warm-up games, in 2019, and player feedback for this tournament was to cut back on a game so that an extra warm weather training week in Portugal could be accommodated. Asked if Ireland will be using these three games to ease into the tournament, Furlong insists the team team want to hit the ground running and ‘every game you play for your country is a privilege’.

“You have to prove it all over again. Prove it to yourself, prove it to the management, prove it to everyone.”

Asked about confidence levels, heading into the 2023 World Cup, Furlong touches on some big moments under Andy Farrell once this team started to gel, with new faces and embracing new tactics, in 2021.

“We’ve plenty of past experience and have done a lot of hard things too,” he says. “We’re obviously coming off the back of the Grand Slam, and some of the teams we’ve beaten over the last two and a half, three years, really, allows us to have a good base and confidence.

“I think that’s important going into a World Cup. You don’t have to pretend that you have a chance. Do you know what I mean?

“That being said, every team is sitting there saying the same thing going into the World Cup. They think it’s their time, they’re training the house down and they fit as fiddles and they’re ready to go. I suppose it’s on us to keep working and to prove it every time you go out there. You have to keep proving that.”

‘A problem solved is a problem halved’

As part of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign, in collaboration with Zurich and Rugby Players Ireland, Tadhg Furlong paid a visit to his old secondary school and spoke with students across different year groups.

“We spoke about their growing up years, when you’re in secondary school, you know, it can be quite a macho environment, especially in all boys schools. So we’re just trying to get it out there, an understanding of healthy habits and personal coping strategies, and finding someone you can unload on and talk to because it is so important. For me, on the professional rugby side of it, I can see the difference it makes to me and my teammates and it is trying to get it across, and more talked about in secondary schools.”

Furlong says he has learned, over the years, not to bottle up feelings and to ‘thrash it out’ if something is troubling him or causing him doubts. “You know,” he adds, “if you talk about a problem, it’s a problem halved with someone. And, I suppose we can see the benefits in it.”

Tadhg FurlongIreland international and Leinster rugby player Tadhg Furlong, alongside students from Good Counsel College in New Ross, who had teamed up with Rugby Players Ireland for a new content series centred on his journey back to his old school to spotlight the work of the Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme. (Credit ©INPHO/Evan Treacy)

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