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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Cian Tracey Twitter Email

‘We know it’s happening but apart from that’ – Tadhg Furlong in dark on what Netflix documentary involves

Leinster players Jason Jenkins, Tadhg Furlong, centre, and Ciarán Frawley at the launch of Just Eat's sustainable Notpla food packaging at Leinster Rugby fixtures for the 2022/23 season. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Perhaps not surprisingly, when Netflix got in touch with Ireland looking for players to feature prominently in their upcoming Six Nations documentary, Tadhg Furlong was one of the ones who kept his head down.

Furlong has never coveted the limelight, which is a shame because any time he ends up front and centre, he tends to deliver the goods – as was the case when he gave a highly entertaining press conference as Ireland captain for the first time last November.

In many ways, he is a documentary-maker’s dream.

A country boy from Wexford with no airs or graces, and crucially, he is one of the best and most highly respected props in the world.

That’s part of the charm, however, as Furlong tends to prefer to do his talking on the pitch. But stick a dictaphone or camera in front of him, and you’ll rarely be disappointed.

It will be fascinating to see how the Netflix documentary fares because there is already a sense of trepidation within the squad about how much access they will get and how much of their hand they will have to show.

One imagines it would have been Joe Schmidt’s worst nightmare as Ireland head coach, and while Andy Farrell may be more relaxed in general, he too will be on his guard, particularly with the World Cup just around the corner.

The cameras have already begun filming, but the real test will come when the Six Nations starts, and coaches and players are asked to carry on as normal.

Even at this stage, there is an element of the unknown about the whole thing.

“We know it’s happening, but apart from that, I don’t have much idea of what on the ground looks like or how much access is involved in it,” Furlong (30) admits.

“We’ve done it on Lions tours, with cameras being around. The only danger with cameras is that you still want lads to be themselves and not have the cameras affect what goes on.

“I’m not sure how much rugby IP (intellectual property) I’d like to leak from the group, for normal reasons.

“I don’t know the full ins and outs of it. I couldn’t imagine it would be full open-door, I don’t see how that would work.”

Although Furlong has watched the successful ‘Drive to Survive’ Netflix series, he is mindful that the Formula 1 teams are not exactly revealing all.  

“You don’t see them talking about engineering, you don’t see them talking about little pieces they put on their cars, and why they did it this way,” Furlong maintains.

“I’m saying that in ‘Drive to Survive’, what do any of us know about F1?

“Look, I don’t know. I haven’t talked much to the lads about it or anything like that. I know (Max) Verstappen knocked it out, he doesn’t fancy it.”

Warren Gatland also raises some interesting points from his perspective as Wales head coach.

The inner sanctum of the dressing room has always remained so, but with Netflix on board, they will want a slice of the pie, which brings about its own challenges, as Gatland points out: “At the moment, my understanding is that we don’t have any editorial rights and that is a little bit of a concern. You want to make sure that you’re able to protect yourself.

“I can tell you now that in a rugby environment when you’re talking about creating emotion, the language or the phrases used aren’t always appropriate.

“Sometimes you say something that’s a little bit out of kilter, you’re trying to get the best out of players, or trying to get the best out of each other.

“When you’re talking about nations playing each other, some of the things that are said in the changing room might not be something that’s always believed, but it’s a part of getting the best out of your performance.

“Afterwards, you’re all friendly and matey again, but at the time, there’s a few things that we need to be conscious of and iron out.

“The last thing we need is to be, I suppose, have it pretty bland in the way it comes across, but I’m also conscious that we need to be able to protect ourselves as well, and that’s pretty important.”

There are plenty of players in the Ireland squad who will provide good entertainment if they are given the freedom to. For example, James Lowe would thrive in such an environment, while a behind-the-scenes insight into Johnny Sexton’s leadership would be fascinating, even if the Ireland captain, as Gatland alluded to, may have to mind his Ps and Qs. “I’ll be as interested (in that) as you are,” Furlong adds with a knowing grin.

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