Opinion: Furlong Fully Deserving Of His Honour As Irish Captain

Campile hero and all-round Wexford legend Tadgh Furlong will this weekend proudly lead the Ireland rugby team out onto the pitch against Fiji….

The former underage New Ross clubman has deservedly been given the captaincy role after many years of proving himself as both an intelligent rugby player, and a man that imposes himself physically around the park. 

It’s been a long journey from his fun-filled days lining out for his beloved New Ross RFC as a mini and youth. His development hit a crucial moment as he was picked up by the South-East teams, progressing onto Leinster youths and then really showing his promise by captaining the Ireland under-18’s many moons ago 

A massive moment in his rugby life was the earning of his first Leinster cap in November 2013 against the Dragons. Such was his high level of performances for Leinster that only a relatively short time later he was announced in the World Cup squad for the 2015 competition and earned his first Ireland cap against Wales in a World cup warm-up match. I do remember driving through New Ross one August weekend that year and seeing images of Tadgh in shop windows, bunting and flags everywhere and even the pikeman had a rugby ball in his hand I seem to remember. 

Another honour and fantastic moment in the development of this great player was being picked for the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017 and starting all three tests on his maiden Lions tour. 

As spectators, we’ve enjoyed his play, skills, beastly tackles, energetic runs and tries down through the years most memorably to name just a few, his landing of several All Blacks on their backside one after the other in Dublin a few years ago, his lovely rumble over the try line to score a stereotypical prop try against Australia down on a historic winning tour, and making a mockery of several Scottish player including Finn Russell with his twinkle-toed sidesteps in Murrayfield.

There have also been some deft grubber kicks, smashing tackles akin to a bulldozer meeting someone, beautiful silky passing and many majestic lines breaks that a centre would be proud of. 

Tadgh getting captaincy on the weekend against Fiji should come as no surprise to anyone. Things that stand out for me are the fact that he is trusted in some remarkable moves including, yee might remember a backline move in the Grandslam against England in 2018. That shows his great intelligence as a player. 

Furlong is a man who leads by his physical actions in terms of dominating in the tackle zone, getting his scrums spot and sucking in defenders in his rampaging attacks. This is something that will get his players ready to set the tone for the Fiji match and put them on the back foot. He is very positive in his attitude, believing in himself and encouraging those around him. 

Something I have noticed recently is Furlong getting really involved in talking and motivating in team huddles. Against New Zealand in the summer just after a crucial Ireland try in the second half of the third test, you could see the Campile man laying down the law to his teammates to ensure the performance levels stayed high until the final whistle went. 

His experience is also huge at this stage of his career too. He has learned the ropes under some fantastic captains and leaders. He is used to winning important matches and trophies in his career at the highest level with Leinster and Ireland, which is hugely beneficial for his confidence as a captain going into a big test match and those players who will deliver on his orders come the weekend.

This big farm boy from southwest Wexford has a hell of a personality too, a sound, colourfully funny man but serious when he needs to be. This is something simple, but as a well-loved young-at-heart veteran of the game, the players chosen for Saturday’s game will naturally want to fight for him and help him that little bit more, especially in his first outing as Irish skipper 

What a privilege for Tadgh Furlong, his family, friends and relations. A tremendously proud Irishman ready to lead his troops into battle on his first venture as captain this coming Saturday at 1.30pm in Dublin. Thought his captaincy may not be a long one, there are few people more deserving than Furlong.

We, as Wexford people, wish him all the very best on what will be a truly great day for the Parish.

Byron Jones

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