Stunned Furlong named Ireland captain for Fiji Test

Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong greeted his being named captain by head coach Andy Farrell for Saturday's Autumn Nations Series Test with Fiji as "It's class, it's class."

The 29-year-old will deputise for Leinster team-mate Johnny Sexton who will sit the match out before Ireland's final Test of the year against Australia on Saturday week.

The 61-times capped Furlong was handed the honour after proving he had recovered from the ankle problem that forced him off early in the second half of last Saturday's 19-16 win over world champions South Africa.

Furlong, who was an integral member of the Irish side that recorded a historic 2-1 series win in New Zealand in July, has not captained a side since his days with Ireland Under-18s.

He admitted to reporters on Wednesday that he had been very surprised to be given the honour -- lock James Ryan has usually stepped in in Sexton's absence.

"I never even thought of it," said Furlong.

"You know when you dream as a young fella, you want to play for Ireland, you want to play for Leinster, you want to play for the Lions -- I never even dreamed of captaining Ireland.

"It could be my only time! Obviously I didn't know if I would be playing or not. Faz (Farrell) said it to me on Monday, 'would you skipper the team, if you're fit and ready to go?', so of course."

Furlong, who was also a member of the British & Irish Lions team that tied 1-1 with the All Blacks in 2017, was in humorous form.

"Spuds, gravy, the mother's Sunday roast," he replied grinning when asked what he did dream about.

"Seriously though just playing, playing for Ireland. I know it's for a game. You're not captain of your country week in, week out but it's still class, it's class.

"It's not something I ever thought was on my radar. To get an opportunity is special, you know? I just want to make the most out of the weekend."

Farrell, whose side are ranked number one in the world, will name his starting line-up on Thursday as the hosts look to extend their winning run at home to 11.

pi/bsp