Tadhg Furlong happy to go back to negotiating table with IRFU in 12 months’ time

The Leinster tighthead accepted that the willingness to sign on for such a short span comes with an element of risk too
Tadhg Furlong happy to go back to negotiating table with IRFU in 12 months’ time

Tadhg Furlong is an official Vodafone Ambassador for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. Picture: Billy Stickland

Tadhg Furlong believes the one-year deal he signed this week with the IRFU is one that is best suited to his current needs but the Leinster tighthead has also made plain his contentment with life under the IRFU banner.

The Wexford man was the last of the big-name players to put pen to paper, the delay explained away yesterday as a result of the injury which sidelined him earlier this year and the desire to avoid any distractions once he returned to the pitch.

Now 28, he is regarded as one of the best players in his position in the world but he accepted too that the willingness to sign on for such a short span comes with an element of risk in a sport where serious injury is never a distant enough possibility.

“Yeah, look, I suppose the one-year deal probably suited me best for a number of reasons really. I would say is I’m very happy where I am playing rugby. I’m very happy in Leinster. I’m very happy in Ireland.

“I’m well looked after, not only in game management but my relationship with physios, coaches, how we want to play. There’s a good group of us now who came through the academy together and we’re getting to that 27, 29 to 30 age group bracket.”

He is, quite simply, happy to “see where we are again next year” and it’s hard not to read between the lines and imagine a thought process which imagines a healthier bargaining position down the road when fans return to grounds and coffers are no longer empty.

If that’s the case then more power to him. Furlong could go abroad and multiply his earning power but he suggested yesterday that options abroad had been given no more than a cursory glance before he came to another agreement with the IRFU.

If anything, his stock should only be higher in 2022, by which time he should be coming off the back of a second Lions tour and, all things going well, add to the three Test starts banked with the tourists when they drew the 2017 series in New Zealand.

Many is the man who has returned from those trips emptied of the mental and physical capacity to raise their games the next season but Furlong suffered no such dips in form or spikes in fatigue four years ago.

“I played 30 games that season, the Lions season. I’m probably in a different position now. I think I’ve played 10. So you have to take that into account as well.

“History shows us that was a good year for Leinster and Irish rugby, and I suppose that’s where the player management we get here is so important.

“I remember we came back from the tour and we had just started our first week of pre-season, the Lions tourists, and Toby Faletau was playing a warm-up game for Bath against Leinster. So it is a little bit different, depending on what country you play in.”

Everything is different now, of course.

The Lions face a straitened schedule in South Africa due to Covid so it’s probably appropriate that Furlong was quarantining in a hotel in Stillorgan after Leinster’s trip to La Rochelle when he heard that he had earned a second trip.

What isn’t altered is the scale of the challenge on the field and the benefits to a player, even one already operating at a world-class level, of being thrust into the mix of the best players and coaching talent these islands have to offer.

“Just experiencing a different viewpoint on rugby in some respects, with different coaches, the way the week is run, how to manage your week, because the conventional training week goes out the window when you’re in a Lions squad because there’s two games every week.

“The training numbers are down, how you get yourself to that peak for the game, learning from other players and dealing with the pressures of big games: they’re big, big games on those Lions tours. I think there’s a lot in it.”

  • Tadhg Furlong is an official Vodafone Ambassador for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. Vodafone, along with its suite of Lions ambassadors, will be using the power of connectivity to bring fans closer to the tour than ever before. Download the official Lions app, powered by Vodafone to start your experience now.

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