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Furlong has travelled miles in a very short space of time

RUGBY

As Lions talk builds and his reputation continues to grow, Tadhg Furlong sometimes has to remind his audience how new he is to all of this.

England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson this week lent his name to the growing clamour for the Ireland man's inclusion on the plane to New Zealand on the back of an impressive body of work this season. He is the form No 3, but on Saturday he will be reminded of how far he has come in the space of a year.

Last season's 10-9 defeat to France is not a match anyone wants to remember, but it is seared into Furlong's memory.

Mike Ross's injury had allowed the then 23-year-old to make his Six Nations debut a week previously against Wales and he kept his place in the squad for the trip to Paris. He replaced Nathan White after 62 minutes with Ireland camped on their own five-metre line and immediately threw himself into the action.

Ultimately, a Johnny Sexton injury delay allowed Ireland to get their scrum together but the ball spurted out and Maxime Medard took full advantage to score.

It would prove to be the pivotal moment and Furlong wasn't seen in green again until the summer tour of South Africa when he began his bid to become Ireland's regular starting tighthead prop; a battle he has now won.

"I still don't know everything, I still don't know it all," he said.

"We got a little bit of reward against Scotland and against Italy as well after putting them under pressure early.

"There is plenty still to work on and France are a bit of a different challenge in the way that they scrummage (compared) to Scotland and Italy.

"France are playing really well. Being a prop and trying to analyse their scrum, there is that fear of if you don't get your stuff right, you're not on point, then it's going to be a tough day at the office.

"There's a fear that if you don't work hard in defence then they could tear you open, they could create something out of nothing," he added.

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