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Tadhg Furlong to play first game in 11 months

By Ian Cameron
Tadhg Furlong (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ireland and Lions star Tadhg Furlong is set to play his first game of rugby in 11 months after being named in the Leinster side that will face the Scarlets in the PRO14 this weekend.

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Furlong hasn’t played since facing England in the 2020 Six Nations on February 23rd. It will be his first game for Leinster Rugby since last January against Benetton Rugby. Furlong has battled back from calf and hamstring issues and will be hopeful of getting game time for Ireland after being named in Andy Farrell’s Six Nations squad.

“There’s a natural progression that needs to happen for Tadhg himself to be physically and mentally right and to earn the right to be available for Wales,” Andy Farrell said earlier this week. “Speaking to Tadhg on Tuesday, he was feeling good, feeling fit, strong, meeting all the requirements.

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Andy Farrell and Jonathan Sexton press conference | 2021 Six nations

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Andy Farrell and Jonathan Sexton press conference | 2021 Six nations

“He feels in good spirits so hopefully we get him through to the end of the week, get him some minutes under his belt for Leinster if selected, and then the plan would be that he comes back into camp on Sunday with us and we can assess where he is at.”

That selection has happened with Furlong named in a youthful Leinster squad for the trip to Llanelli.

Notably, Ryan Baird returns to the second row after being trialled as a blindside in recent outings, with Josh Murphy, Dan Leavy and Jack Conan making up the back row unit.

Ireland scrumhalf Luke McGrath captains the side, while there is a possible debut off the bench for 19-year-old Naas Rugby Club player Jamie Osborne.

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LEINSTER RUGBY
15. Max O’Reilly
14. Cian Kelleher
13. Liam Turner
12. Ciarán Frawley
11. Dave Kearney
10. Harry Byrne
9. Luke McGrath CAPTAIN
1. Peter Dooley
2. James Tracy
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Ross Molony
5. Ryan Baird
6. Josh Murphy
7. Dan Leavy
8. Jack Conan

16. Seán Cronin
17. Ed Byrne
18. Tom Clarkson
19. Jack Dunne
20. Scott Fardy
21. Hugh O’Sullivan
22. David Hawkshaw
23. Jamie Osborne

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)

SCARLETS
15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes (capt), 11 Ryan Conbeer; 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Dane Blacker; 1 Phil Price, 2 Marc Jones, 3 Javan Sebastian, 4 Morgan Jones, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Blade Thomson, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Uzair Cassiem

Reps: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Will Homer, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Paul Asquith.

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Flankly 2 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

If rugby wants to remain interesting in the AI era then it will need to work on changing the rules. AI will reduce the tactical advantage of smart game plans, will neutralize primary attacking weapons, and will move rugby from a being a game of inches to a game of millimetres. It will be about sheer athleticism and technique,about avoiding mistakes, and about referees. Many fans will find that boring. The answer is to add creative degrees of freedom to the game. The 50-22 is an example. But we can have fun inventing others, like the right to add more players for X minutes per game, or the equivalent of the 2-point conversion in American football, the ability to call a 12-player scrum, etc. Not saying these are great ideas, but making the point that the more of these alternatives you allow, the less AI will be able to lock down high-probability strategies. This is not because AI does not have the compute power, but because it has more choices and has less data, or less-specific data. That will take time and debate, but big, positive and immediate impact could be in the area of ref/TMO assistance. The technology is easily good enough today to detect forward passes, not-straight lineouts, offside at breakdown/scrum/lineout, obstruction, early/late tackles, and a lot of other things. WR should be ultra aggressive in doing this, as it will really help in an area in which the game is really struggling. In the long run there needs to be substantial creativity applied to the rules. Without that AI (along with all of the pro innovations) will turn rugby into a bash fest.

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