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The 'massive lump' compliment England have paid Tadhg Furlong

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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England sub loosehead Joe Marler might only get a short few minutes playing against Tadhg Furlong, the starting Ireland tighthead in this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations round four game at Twickenham. However, his admiration for the Irish forward as a rugby fan knows no bounds judging by what he had to say on Tuesday about his 2017 Lions tour colleague. 

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Marler has been restricted to just 16, 15 and eight-minute appearances off the England bench in this season’s championship, a level of activity very different from Furlong whose three runs last month in the Ireland No3 jersey lasted 53, 72 and 61 minutes

That suggests their time on the pitch might not overlap for long on Saturday in London, but that will give Marler ample time on the England replacements bench to further appreciate as a fan the world-class nature of Furlong’s play.

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“He told me on that tour in 2017 that he was a truffle pig farmer and to this day I still have not worked out whether he was trying to pull my leg or not,” quipped Marler when asked about the Irish tighthead. 

“Tadhg is world-class. He has actually stepped up his game around the field, particularly in an attack and even more so this season. You have seen in this tournament that he is standing more at second and third receiver off the ten, so they are doing a lot of playmaking through him and he is just so comfortable on the ball. 

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“I try and think of it sometimes as a fan and you go, ‘well, look at that massive lump on the field that you just think is going to bend over and push’, but then he is also so comfortable on the ball, his work rate. 

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“It is really good to see as a fan that he is sort of not ahead of the game but the likes of him and Kyle Sinckler are just taking front row play to another level.”

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