Sunday 18 February 2018

Conan eager to build on Schmidt's words of wisdom

Jack Conan
Jack Conan
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

After lining out with the Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons two weeks ago, Jack Conan has very much caught the international bug.

Having been named in Joe Schmidt's Six Nations squad, the 22-year-old knows that he is very much in the mix while at the same time, he admitted that he wasn't entirely happy with his performance in Cork.

The No 8 only made his Leinster debut 12 months ago but the level of his performances have been such that he has been singled out for praise by Matt O'Connor and Schmidt, yet he demands better of himself.

"To my own standard I wasn't overly happy," Conan said.

"I think I performed a way that was a bit unbecoming of how I had played through the duration of the season.

Errors

"I made a few errors that I wouldn't have been happy with if it was any other day so I wasn't overly pleased with how I played.

"It wasn't a great match and it was difficult to get into but one or two things didn't go my way and I was a bit annoyed.

"It was a good opportunity, so maybe a few nerves and adjusting to a new level. . . I think if I get that opportunity again I'll be a bit more aware of it."

Conan is on a long list of players vying for a place both in the Leinster and Ireland back-row, and his focus for now remains firmly on his province. Schmidt gave him areas of his game to work on after the Wolfhounds game, and he is keen to heed the Ireland coach's advice.

"I spoke to Joe after the game, just about a few little things to try to pay a bit more attention to and try to improve on," he said.

"That's something I'm going to try to bring to the next few games, to work harder on and take the time.

"Luckily enough we have these four weeks where I can worry about my game and what I want to improve on, so I can take what he said on board and try to develop."

The time spent in Carton House has already worked wonders for Conan's confidence but by training with the international squad, he saw the areas of his own game that need particular work.

Aspire

"Obviously, I was a few steps away but not too far. After training with those lads day in, day out in camp, it makes you realise that's where you want to be and what you want to aspire to," he said.

"It was a good learning curve and showed me the areas I need to improve on if I want to go to that level."

The World Cup remains a realistic goal for a highly ambitious player but for that to happen, Conan will have to impress in every opportunity that he is given from now until the end of the season.

That starts on Sunday against the Dragons and he knows how important these next four weeks are with the international players away.

"Originally I didn't think that I would be involved in the (Ireland) squad at all so to even get there was great," he smiled.

"So I think if I just keep on going the way I am, and take on board what Joe said and improve, please God, if I go as well as I can, I might be on the plane come September and October.

"But I suppose that's in my hands now."

Irish Independent

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