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Rugby

02nd Jan 2023

Tadhg Furlong had three of the best lines in the All Blacks documentary

Patrick McCarry

Tadhg Furlong

The only shame was that the Wexford native did not feature much in the reflective moments when Ireland turned the tables.

The summer of 2022 will be fondly remembered by Irish rugby fans as the moment lads like Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Furlong took the fight to New Zealand.

‘Tackling the All Blacks’ aired on RTE over the festive period, and featured some great moments from the tour to The Land of the Long White Cloud. It is still available on the RTE Player and is worth a catch-up if you missed it during what is usually a busy period.

Not for the first time, Furlong and O’Mahony pulled out some of the stand-out lines [we picked out three nice ones from the Wexford prop] but James Lowe and Paul O’Connell had some gems, too.

“If you’re a rugby fan as a young fella, it’s iconic,” said Furlong.

“My kids became obsessed with the Haka,” Johnny Sexton noted, “and my wife used to send me videos of them wearing their Lions jerseys, doing the Haka.”

“We understand that it’s a challenge,” Sexton added, “and we’ve got to accept that challenge… we treat it with massive respect and we always have every time we’ve faced it. And you know what’s ahead, as well. A big, physical challenge, too.”

Perhaps Conor Murray has the reaction that most of us regular rugby followers, and fans, would have if facing off against the Kiwi war dance.

“There’s a little bit of fear but it’s also like, ‘Oh my God, this is live. They’re right in front of me. This is cool!’

“Once it’s done,” stated James Lowe, “it’s go time. Time to put your money where your mouth is.”

Tadhg FurlongNew Zealand players perform the ‘Haka’. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)

“That’s rugby, you know? It does happen”

Ireland scored the first try of the test series against New Zealand, through Keith Earls, but leaked four converted tries in return to trail 28-5 at the half-time break. Added to that, Johnny Sexton was already off the field after shipping a big hit.

“It happened quick, you know,” Tadhg Furlong reflected.

“Some people say, ‘Aw, you know, if you hadn’t conceded those three tries so quickly… ‘ but that’s rugby, you know? It does happen.

“A lot of the time, we talk about breath work and staying in the moment and whatever has happened before, you should genuinely let it go, just refocus and get back on point.”

Ireland were able to refocus and scored a try from Garry Ringrose, early in the second half, but fell to a 42-19 defeat. They would need to win the final two Tests to take the series.

Many of the Ireland players hold to an enlightening Monday morning review, after the First Test, as the turning point of the series. “It was the most important two hours of our tour,” said Peter O’Mahony, “how we broke that game down and saw what we had left out there, at times.”

Again, it was Furlong and his matter-of-fact delivery that teed up what would prove to be an historic Ireland victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. He proclaimed:

“If we could put our game out there, the way we wanted it to be played, we’d be in the hunt.”

Ireland did indeed put the game out there as they wanted to be played. They were already 10-0 up and steaming when the All Blacks were reduced to 14 men after a high smack left Garry Ringrose concussed. There would be a second half fight-back but Ireland held on to win their first ever Test against the All Blacks, on their home patch.

“There were some boys that really stepped up that day,” James Lowe recalled. “We were on one, that day, and we reaped the rewards.”

Disappointingly, Tadhg Furlong does not feature again as the Third Test is discussed. There is a focus on the squad’s older hands – veterans of the 2012 tour to New Zealand – as Ireland won again in Wellington to clinch the series victory.

Fittingly, the final words go to Johnny Sexton.

“Is it the summit for us?” he rhetorically asked. “No, because we view the World Cup as the end point of this team’s journey. If we can continue to build on it and use it as a stepping stone to win a Six Nations or a World Cup well then it will be up their with the fondest memories of my career.”

If they don’t… don’t get him started.

Tackling The All Blacks can be viewed on the RTE Player – HERE

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