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The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

Eddie Jones' England weren't far away from making the grade.

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Hilarious Furlong reaction to becoming first-time Ireland skipper

By PA
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Tadhg Furlong says it will be class to captain Ireland for the first time after declaring himself fit for Saturday’s Dublin showdown with Fiji. Prop Furlong was one of three Irish players forced off by injury in last weekend’s 19-16 win over South Africa but he has since overcome the ankle issue to retain his place.

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The British and Irish Lions pick has also been handed the responsibility of leading the team at the Aviva Stadium, meaning regular skipper Johnny Sexton – who suffered a dead leg against the Springboks – and vice-captain James Ryan are almost certain to be among those rested by head coach Andy Farrell.

Leinster player Furlong, who has 61 caps, has not captained a side since his days with Ireland U18s. “I never even thought of it,” said the 29-year-old. “You know when you dream as a young fella, you want to play for Ireland, you want to play for Leinster, you want to play for the Lions – I never even dreamed of captaining Ireland. It could be my only time!

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“Obviously I didn’t know if I would be playing or not. Andy said to me on Monday, ‘Would you skipper the team if you’re fit and ready to go?’ So of course. It’s class, it’s class, it’s not something I ever thought was on my radar. Getting an opportunity is special, you know? I just want to make the most out of the weekend.”

Asked about his ankle, he replied: “It feels good, thankfully, I’m good to go.” Farrell will announce his team for Fiji on Thursday, with Ireland seeking an eleventh successive home win to retain their place at the top of the world rankings.

Related

Scrum-half Conor Murray has been ruled out after sustaining a groin problem against the Springboks, while centre Stuart McCloskey may be available following encouraging progress in his recovery from an arm injury.

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