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Tadhg Furlong has his own assessment of 'flying' Scotland

By PA
NANTES, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 16: Tadhg Furlong of Ireland looks on at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Ireland and Tonga at Stade de la Beaujoire on September 16, 2023 in Nantes, France. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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