Tadhg Furlong has admitted that he was “bricking it” before his name was called out in the British and Irish Lions squad announcement for the tour to South Africa.
The Leinster and Ireland prop was always expected to be called up by Warren Gatland for his second Lions tour, but that did little to ease Furlong’s nerves during the lengthy official squad announcement.
Furlong was speaking about his Lions call up as an ambassador for Vodafone and gave an insight into his frantic thought process during the naming of the squad.
The Originals, 1888
The Invincibles, 1974
The heroes of 1997
The Unbeaten Tours of 2013, 2017
Over to you Class of 2021 – Time to write a new chapter in our history 🦁
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) May 6, 2021
“I was bricking it. I was absolutely bricking it… I had it in my head that ‘If I’m going on this thing my name is coming out after Toby Faletau in the alphabetical order. Then Zander Fagerson came out,” Furlong said.
“I was like ‘f-a, f-u,’ you know you’re doing all that stuff in your head. Next thing you just get called out and you’re like ‘Thank God’. It’s a mad feeling and its class but then it’s so far away. You just don’t know what to think really.”
‘I thought Sinckler had a fair chance of making it.’
While the Wexford man was named in the Lions squad as expected, there were a number of noteworthy omissions, including his fellow tighthead prop and 2017 tourist Kyle Sinckler.
Sinckler came on as a replacement for Furlong in the second half of all three tests against the All Blacks in 2017, but will not be touring South Africa with the Lions.
“You never know do you? It’s just so hard to get on a Lions tour. I suppose it’s just so open to opinion, really. Before it I thought Sincks had a fair chance of making it but it isn’t the case,” Furlong commented.
“You probably saw at the weekend, as I did as well, how much it meant to him and how disappointed he was.”
Furlong: ‘It’s going to be tough being away from family and friends.’
The members of this year’s Lions squad will face up to 10-weeks in a covid-secure bubble in order to tour South Africa this summer, after already spending the duration of the Six Nations in a similar environment.
While the current situation is far from ideal as players will spend a prolonged period away from their loved ones, the Ireland prop acknowledged that sacrifices must be made in order to tour with the Lions.
“It’s going to be tough being away for that long from your family and your friends but I suppose it’s just the sacrifice you make,” Furlong explained.
“Judging from the previous tour I was on you’re so well looked after on the Lions and I’m sure they’ll do everything they can to help you over there.
“Didn’t Warren Gatland say the rugby will be the easiest bit and the off-field will be the hardest bit? He’s probably not far off there I would think.”
New one-year contract extension with Leinster and Ireland.
Furlong signed a new one-year contract extension with the IRFU and Leinster during the week, which will keep him on these shores until the end of the 2021/22 season.
While the Ireland prop revealed that he was offered a longer contract by the IRFU he was only willing to sign on for another year, but did state that he was very happy with where he is.
“There was a delay to the start in negotiations across the board really because of the situation we’re in. Then I was coming back from a long-term injury and I wanted to get back playing,” Furlong said.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) May 10, 2021
“When you’re playing in big game weeks you don’t want to be talking about contracts so that probably all added into it. The one-year deal probably suits me best for a number of reasons really.
“I’m very happy where I am playing rugby and very happy in Leinster and very happy in Ireland. I’m well looked after in terms of not only game management but relationships with physios and coaches, how we want to play.
“I’m very happy where I am. I signed a year because it suited me more than anything really and we’ll see where we are again next year.”