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Andy Farrell backs Finlay Bealham to impress in Tadhg Furlong’s absence

Finlay Bealham

Andy Farrell has backed Finlay Bealham to impress in Tadhg Furlong’s absence when Ireland take on Wales this Saturday.

Furlong has not yet fully recovered from a calf injury which has ruled him out in recent weeks, which means Bealham will start against Wales while Tom O’Toole has been named among the replacements.

Bealham has acted as a back up to Furlong for quite some time, and he has often impressed off the bench, although he has rarely got an opportunity to start for Ireland.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is not concerned about how Bealham will fare however, as he stressed how much confidence he has in the Connacht prop at Thurday’s press conference.

Andy Farrell on Finlay Bealham.

“[Furlong]’s not quite ready. In fact, he’s progressing pretty well but he’s not quite there yet. He could possibly be there in the next few days or week, but we just think Finlay deserves it as well,” Farrell said.

“He’s playing some outstanding rugby at this moment in time. In the last game he played he scored a hat trick, scrummaging very well, etc. So he deserves his start and Tadhg will keep working away to be fit hopefully for the French game.

“[Bealham]’s been playing good rugby for a good while now but coming back from the autumn or any camp that he’s been in with us, he’s always had that trust from us.

“He’s a massive personality within our squad, he’s very popular. But coming out of the autumn and how that translates going back to Connacht and his performances since then have been top drawer.”

The scrum battle will be big.

Ireland are heading into Saturday’s game in significantly better form than their opponents, although Wales will be confident that they can find some success at scrum time.

Starting Wales props Gareth Thomas and Tomas Francis have been destructive scrummagers this season for Ospreys, and they will be hoping to transfer that form to the international stage alongside hooker Ken Owens.

Bealham has excelled in all areas of the pitch this season, although he will be very aware of how important it will be for Ireland to at least achieve parity in the scrum.

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