Tadhg Furlong believes pressure of Scotland game will bring best out of Ireland

By Sports Desk October 04, 2023

Prop Tadhg Furlong believes Ireland have proven they can thrive under big-game pressure as they seek to avoid a shock Rugby World Cup exit.

Andy Farrell’s men have topped the world rankings for well over a year and won a national-record 16 Test matches in a row.

Yet the Six Nations champions are still in danger of flying home from France before the knockout stages heading in to Saturday evening’s decisive Pool B clash with Scotland in Paris.

 

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Leinster tighthead Furlong has helped his country beat each of their major rivals during the Farrell era and expects the team to once again deliver under the weight of expectation.

“I think it brings the best out of rugby players,” he said. “It shows your mentality, it shows what you are about, it shows what the group is about. It shows a lot.

“The proof is always in the pudding in terms of how the match goes, and how you deal with the pressure. It’s just about trying to get on.

“I think as a group, we are relatively experienced and we have a good understanding of how we work and how the team works and how to get the most out of the team in these big games.

“We have played in big games before. Now it’s just about trying to get your prep right and try to get your best performance out there.

“It’s (about) not being afraid of it, it’s about embracing it and getting on with it.”

Head coach Farrell will name his team for the Stade de France showdown on Thursday afternoon and is likely to make few, if any, changes following a 13-8 victory over South Africa on September 23.

A win or draw will send Ireland through as group winners ahead of the Springboks.

But success for Gregor Townsend’s side could see them snatch progression at the expense of their rivals, depending on the margin of victory and bonus points obtained.

Ireland have dominated recent meetings between the two nations, winning eight in a row and 12 of the last 13 across the last decade, including March’s 22-7 Six Nations triumph at Murrayfield.

Furlong feels Scotland represent a “ huge challenge” and a far tougher proposition than that match just under seven months ago when the Irish overcame a host of injury setbacks to keep themselves on course for the Grand Slam.

“Of course you look at the last game, you probably don’t look at the seven before that,” said the 30-year-old.

“Rugby is ever changing and evolving. They’re flying at the minute. I was really impressed with their warm-up games against France and have been really impressed with how they’ve performed in the tournament so far.

“I would imagine they’re disappointed with their South Africa performance (an 18-3 loss).

“They’ve come on a lot since the Six Nations, and they had a really good Six Nations.

“They were flying then as well. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us this weekend.”

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