Thursday 22 June 2017

Conan refusing to get distracted by Six Nations fever

‘It was good just to get back playing after two or three weeks,’ says Jack Conan after last weekend’s game against Treviso. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
‘It was good just to get back playing after two or three weeks,’ says Jack Conan after last weekend’s game against Treviso. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leinster touched down in Italy last Saturday just in time to watch Ireland's Six Nations win in Rome, and while they were suitably impressed, the focus was largely being kept on their own task at hand the following day in Treviso.

That's according to Jack Conan, who has been in Carton House with the Ireland squad this year but hasn't been able to add to the single cap he won against Scotland in a World Cup warm-up game two years ago.

"We were over there in time to watch the Italy game, so we sat down as a team and watched it," Conan said.

Focus

"We're just trying to narrow the focus on the way we're playing here. It's good to be in camp for the last bit and see how things are doing and learn from the lads, but it's good to come back as well and apply that here.

"Even though it wasn't exactly a vintage performance (against Treviso) the other day, it was good just to get back playing after two or three weeks out."

There is a steely determination about the Leinster squad during this Six Nations period, and with a Champions Cup quarter-final lying in wait when it ends, the likes of Conan are desperately to prove to Leo Cullen that they merit a place in the match-day squad at the Aviva.

But is it difficult to avoid being caught up in the hype surrounding the Six Nations?

"We have to close rank a bit more and just get the focus on us," Conan said.

"Leinster Rugby is always about the people who are here and contributing at the moment. It's massive for the younger lads to get a chance and for the senior lads getting back from injury, who are getting a good bit of game time and a run-out.

"Was it two years ago we only got eight out of 20 points? That probably cost us a play-off place come the end of the year, so although there's distractions outside of Leinster and other people are focusing somewhere else, we have to focus on these four games and get the most out of it because it is an important part of the season for us."

Conan was included in Ireland's original 40-man squad, which was a reward for his fine form this season.

"When I came back in late October/November/December, (to be told) I would've been in the squad at all for the Six Nations, I would've been delighted so I was happy to get in there after putting in performances back to back and hopefully push on again.

Tough

"But it's been great to get in and hopefully I can do that bit more and put my hand up for selection. Obviously the lads are going well so it's going to be tough, but that's it.

"I suppose it is for me, If I was the 24th man for Ireland, I'd be delighted because you're obviously that one step closer, but it's impossible to get better when you don't play.

"You're never going to jump anyone in the queue if you're only ever the 24th man or you're not getting any minutes.

"Then you you've shown in the game we played in the weekend we were rusty from not playing. So if you're consistently not involved even though you're only one step away from it, it's hard to anticipate the switch and be ready to the next week.

"Maybe that might change person to person, but for me I feel it's always better to be getting rugby under the belt every week.

"I just try and focus on my own game and pick up where I left off against Montpellier and Castres."

Irish Independent

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