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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Andy Farrell backs Tadhg Furlong to shine against Scotland - after 99 days out through injury

Andy Farrell says Tadhg Furlong will be ready for Murrayfield mayhem - despite not playing in three months.

Ireland's first choice tighthead has been absent since early December, when he suffered a calf injury against Ulster in the URC.

That makes it 14 weeks out of action but head coach Farrell has no fears for the 30-year-old as he returns in Ireland's fourth round Six Nations clash with Scotland.

READ MORE: Ireland's Grand Slam novices urged by Johnny Sexton to embrace their golden opportunity

Had Finlay Bealham not suffered an injury against Italy, Furlong might have been selected on the bench on his return, but with the Connacht prop out the Ireland coaches have opted to go with the Wexford man from the start.

"Some players can and some players can't and he's across his detail like no other," said Farrell of Furlong.

"Tadhg doesn't have to tear himself apart mentally to try and make sure that he gets up to speed because he's already figured it out.

"He's one of those that probably when he's driving the car, or sat in his room, or having a bit of food or whatever, he's probably thinking about the game anyway so when it comes to training it's all boxed off.

"He brings confidence to the team by how he prepares and that gives us confidence to know that he's ready to play.

"Tadhg's got nothing to lose. He just needs to be himself, he just needs to go out there and enjoy it.

Tadhg Furlong (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

"He's enjoyed the week, he's been pretty relaxed so far, he's been great around the group.

"He'll build up for what's going to be a physical battle, like everyone else will, and he's nothing to lose. He just needs to go out there and perform the best he can for his team."

Furlong is one of a number of big hitters returning from injury, with skipper Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose and Dan Sheehan fit again and with Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony restored to the line-up after coming off the bench in Rome a fortnight ago.

Jamison Gibson-Park is also fit enough to return but Murray has got the nod at scrum-half. Farrell claims he didn't face his hardest selection calls this week.

"Not really, no," said the head coach.

"Form, people champing at the bit, the right balance of what fits for the starting team and what fits for the bench in terms of the energy that's going to come on is all part of the package.

"People nursing a little bit of an injury like Stu McCloskey is fit enough and if called upon is fit and well and ready to go, but at the same time he's had a bit of a niggle there.

"So putting your hat on and trying to balance what's right for this week and for next is key for the rest of the tournament, I feel.

"It's always nice to have players coming back towards the end of the tournament. This stretch now coming up is probably the hardest stretch, back-to-back games with a six-day turnaround, so it's nice that the squad is nice and healthy.

"Jamison has just come back into the group, he's not been back long. We've seen his quality in training already but Conor's playing really well and deserves to start.

"Conor's a big-game player and his style of play has suited a lot of styles we've come up against throughout the years, so we expect him to be at his best."


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