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Ringrose hails 'Mayor of Wexford' as Furlong defies logic with his power in Ireland's historic Grand Slam triumph

By Jonathan Bradley

Tadhg Furlong "defies logic" with his all-court brand of power play and finesse, according to Garry Ringrose.

Midfielder Ringrose insisted Furlong could no longer escape his Mayor of Wexford nickname after his masterful inside-centre impression in Ireland's Grand Slam triumph at Twickenham.

Leinster prop Furlong conjured one of Saturday's key moments as Ireland overwhelmed England 24-15 to claim just their third-ever NatWest 6 Nations Grand Slam.

The British and Irish Lions star created the extra man in midfield to send Bundee Aki crashing through England's defensive line, before CJ Stander claimed Ireland's second try.

And Ringrose admitted Furlong's role in Ireland's third-ever Grand Slam means he will have to learn to love the nickname he has never yet warmed to.

"Oh he's just the humble farmer from Wexford, but he's going to have to take that nickname a bit more now, definitely!" said Ringrose, of Furlong's moniker.

"We'd run that move a couple of times in training, and Tadhg defies logic for a tighthead with how mobile he is and the deft skills he has.

"I was chasing on the outside of Bundee (Aki), who did exceptionally well to find CJ (Stander) on his inside, and he too was able to produce a very intelligent finish against the post."

Ringrose had to fight for fitness to play any part in Ireland's Six Nations at all. An ankle problem suffered in January almost kept him out of the tournament, but the 23-year-old recovered in time to star in the 28-8 win over Scotland, and then Saturday's stunning Twickenham triumph.

Ringrose revealed he watched Johnny Sexton's match-winning drop-goal in the 15-13 win over France in Paris in The Bridge, the Ballsbridge pub part-owned by Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Rob and Dave Kearney.

"I'm well aware I'm extremely lucky to be in the position I am," said Ringrose.

"If Chris (Farrell) and Robbie (Henshaw) hadn't picked up injuries I probably wouldn't have been here.

"I won't forget how lucky I am. From my point of view it was about trying to come in and fit in, as opposed to bat the lights out of it in any way shape or form. Just build on the foundations the other lads had put in.

"I was in The Bridge with a couple of the Leinster lads to watch the France match.

"That was a pretty memorable moment, for anyone who's in any way associated with rugby in Ireland, and one I won't forget.

"So from that to winning the Grand Slam, on St Patrick's Day and at Twickenham, it was incredible stuff. From my point of view for the week coming into it, it was about trying to forget about that and it was just another game.

"As tough an opposition as it is, it was about asserting ourselves personally and getting the basics covered.

"The lap of honour was pretty special, my parents and girlfriend were over so it was nice to be able to share those moments with them."

Meanwhile, Sir Clive Woodward insists last year's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand left England drained for the 6 Nations.

Eddie Jones' men were replaced as champions by Ireland, who completed the Grand Slam with a 24-15 victory at Twickenham on Saturday, and finished fifth in their worst tournament performance since 1987.

England supplied the bulk of the Lions' touring party to New Zealand and Woodward believes that has had its customary knock-on effect.

"You can't overstate what happened on the Lions tour," admitted Woodward. "As a fan, I love the Lions, but as England coach, I did not like it one little bit.

"Every time the Lions toured, the way our players have to play so many games for their clubs, it meant you would have a bad year and the stats tell you that.

"Certainly yesterday (Saturday), but also against France and Scotland, they looked tired.

"Maro Itoje looked out on his feet and not the same player who played against New Zealand last summer. It's taken its toll on them. As head coach you need more control over your players.

"The off season is going to be so important for England because they need some spring back in their step because they look like a tired team."

Belfast Telegraph


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