Conan set to finish strong after Covid effects and Six Nations ‘stop-start’


IF ALL GOES according to their current plan, Leinster face an exciting 11 weekends of back-to-back action.

Back-to-back games with Connacht in Europe, a two-game tour of South Africa in the United Rugby Championship, the Champions Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals, and then their final regular-season URC game against Munster.

A week later, the Champions Cup final, then the URC quarter-finals, semi-finals and Grand Final.

There are obviously plenty of possibilities for the train to derail, but the Leinster players are excited about what lies ahead before they hope to be part of the Irish tour of New Zealand in July.

Number eight Jack Conan is among them and he’s looking to end this season on a high, after experiencing some frustrations in recent months.

“I had Covid over Christmas and it kicked my ass a bit,” the Bray man says. “When I got back to training, I definitely felt it in my lungs for a long time. I really felt like I struggled a bit with it coming back.

“I feel good now. I like being at Leinster. I like the challenge ahead of us. I’m delighted to be back here. I feel good physically. I probably feel better physically than I did. have been for the past few months.

Conan was in the Irish side throughout the Six Nations before returning to Leinster for last weekend’s win at Munster.

The 29-year-old started three games for Ireland as they won their Triple Crown, coming off the bench in the other two.

“A bit stop-start” is how Conan rates his Six Nations form. “Obviously frustrated, I underperformed by my own standards. France away didn’t click for us. It didn’t click for me personally.

Conan won the Triple Crown with Ireland.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I had a few moments that I look back on and I didn’t… not that I didn’t do my best but it wasn’t the best result for me and I made mistakes.

“I thought it was a big learning curve. Saying that, I enjoyed it. It’s always great to be part of this group. It was nice to come back at the end and even play my role against Italy and England and then returning to the starting line-up for Scotland.

“It’s never an easy road, these campaigns and playing rugby. There are a lot of ups and downs. You have to take the good with the bad and learn from it. I know I will be better for it.

Like most of his Irish team-mates, Conan came back to life with Leinster quite seamlessly.

He says the frenetic pace of Leinster’s training and competition for squad places is helping that integration, which means no one can come back to the province to stand up.

Conan was also delighted with Leinster’s calm at Thomond Park last time out.

“It’s a place where we’ve gone down and capitulated before,” he explains, “where we’ve had yellow cards, red cards. We’ve engaged them in these little serious things that they like to get into. .


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“We came down and said, ‘It’s going to be about us, it’s going to be about our details and our process. Then if they have to come up with this stuff, we’ll just forget about it, move on to the next job.


Number eight attributes the influence of Leo Cullen.

Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

“I think we were incredibly calm and that’s what I thought at the end of the 80 minutes, such a calm performance from us. We were never passed, we were never passed or something. thing like that. It was just a very controlled and calm performance, very calculated and precise.

Leinster once again looked like an extremely well-drilled side and although Stuart Lancaster rightly receive much of the credit for what they do on the pitch, last weekend’s victory was another notch in the belt. of head coach Leo Cullen.

Conan says Leinster’s old lock remains absolutely essential to their continued success.

“Even though Stuart does a lot of the training, Leo is constantly telling you about little things and he’s constantly challenging the team to be better,” Conan explains. “He’s someone who holds so much to the standards and values ​​of Leinster.

“He knows we can never push ourselves too far because he had the good days with Leinster, but he also saw the bad days where he went years without winning anything.

“He’s the person who instills this humble value in all of us – that you might think is fine now, but if you don’t keep pushing yourself and improving, we can go back so quickly to not winning anything. “


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