Monday 16 September 2019

'I definitely see myself being able to lock down that position' - Conan backing himself for Ireland place

Fond memories: Jack Conan made his international debut four years ago during the World Cup warm-up games. Photo: Sportsfile
Fond memories: Jack Conan made his international debut four years ago during the World Cup warm-up games. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

In many people's eyes, he was the form Irish No 8 last season and now Jack Conan's task is to transfer his scintillating club form on to the international stage.

Ousting CJ Stander from the starting XV will be no easy task, especially with the Munster player being one of Joe Schmidt's most reliable lieutenants, but few would disagree that the gap between the pair is as close as it has ever been.

With Conan and Stander offering very different threats, Schmidt has a big decision to make about a key position over the coming weeks.

The Leinster man has been knocking on the door for a couple of years now and having enjoyed a stellar club campaign, he is confident he can usurp his Munster rival in time for the start of the World Cup.

"If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will," Conan insisted.

"I definitely see myself being able to lock down that position.

"Once I am given an opportunity, as I have been throughout the year, I think I have shown I am more than capable of doing it.

"There are still areas I can improve in. I will be better. Where I am in the moment is the closest that I've been, but there is more to come."

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When a developmental Ireland side toured Japan two years ago, Conan thrived in the sticky weather.

That won't have gone unnoticed by Schmidt and Conan certainly feels he can hit even greater heights on the biggest stage.

"That kind of hard ground, hot day suits me," the Bray native continued.

"It is nice open, quick rugby. I feel that brings the best out of myself. I've always performed really well in those conditions.

"It is setting up to be a really exciting campaign in the World Cup, if I get the nod to go. 

"There is still a lot of work to be done between now and then.

"CJ is some player as well and he has been fantastic for Ireland every time he has gotten the opportunity to play.

"I look forward to battling it out with him and we will see what happens."

Four years ago, after Conan made his international debut during the World Cup warm-up games, he was bitterly disappointed not to have been selected for the final squad.

It was a mark of how confident the 26-year-old was in his own ability even back then, but this time around he is in a much stronger position to stake his claim for a place.

"It was disappointing," Conan admitted.

"I was in a position where everyone ahead of me had far more experience. That being said, I still gave myself a decent shot because I had played well. It will definitely add some fuel to the fire.

"It would he hugely different if I didn't make it this year compared to 2015.

"Where I am and how I have been playing at this stage in my career... as I said I've produced as well as I ever have in the last few months.

"If that isn't good enough to do it, that would be upsetting, but I'm backing myself and I'm confident that I'm fit and ready to be in Japan."

  • Jack Conan was speaking at the launch of Dublin City Sportsfest 2019. For more information, visit http://www.dublincity.ie/sportsfest

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