Tadhg Furlong: the chip on my shoulder drove me to succeed

Irish prop opens up to OTB:AM about a rise to the top that was far from straightforward

BY Ciaran Bradley 09:15 Tuesday 13 February 2018, 9:15 13 Feb 2018

Tadhg Furlong believes that an inferiority complex was partly behind his rise to the top of professional rugby, and still drives him to be the best that he can be.

Talking to Ger and Eoin for OTB:AM, the Ireland prop said that his “road less travelled” through the youth setup benefited his approach to the game, and still prevails. He thinks that the dichotomy between the traditional bastions of rugby in the well-resourced schools of Ireland lit a fire within him and others to succeed in spite of perceived underdog status.

“At the youth level, as much as there is a huge amount of work gone in and investment into the player pathway, you just can’t match the time spent that schools have with their players, and the coaches available to them.

 “It’s hard for me, because I left school and I probably had a massive chip on the shoulder. I hadn’t really touched weights properly, didn’t really understand a lot about my body. It takes four to five years – four years maybe [to feel comfortable alongside other players].

 “You probably feel like you are an underdog and you probably think certain things about lads from Dublin when you grow up in the country that when you look back now you probably think are a bit naive, but at the time you firmly believed it and it’s what you drove you on.

“You thought maybe these lads had been afforded more opportunities than you and that they thought they were better than you because you came from the country. I’m not saying that’s the case now at all, but it’s the way I felt back then.

Furlong believes that far from impeding his development as a player, the inferiority complex that he still feels drives him on, and that unwavering superstar status is not something that would sit easily with his personality.

“I don’t think it would sit well with me. It’s probably not me to be doing that sort of stuff. I think [a chip on the shoulder] works for me – I think there’s a degree where a small bit more confidence would have been good going through the age grades and playing professional rugby. But I suppose it’s something where you come to understand it’s who you are and it’s the way you work.”

“You don’t want to fool yourself so you’re letting down your team-mates. You don’t read a massive amount of things that people say about you, no matter how nice they are, because you know yourself that you’ve areas of your game that you want to improve on to be better. There’s always that niggling voice inside your head saying ‘you need to be better at that, you need to be better at this’. That keeps me going, that drives me on.”

You can listen to Tadhg’s interview on OTB:AM, and subscribe to Off the Ball’s YouTube channel here.

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