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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Conan: "It shows me the level I want to aspire to."
# The Barbarian
'I have a lot to learn' - Jack Conan knows what's required for World Cup contention
A lot done, more to do for the Leinster star.

IT’S LEINSTER INSTEAD of Ireland duty for Jack Conan this weekend, but the fact that the 22-year-old was even close to Six Nations contention represents an achievement he can be proud of.

Alongside the likes of D’Arcy, O’Brien and Ross, Conan played all 80 minutes for the Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons at the end of January — less than a year after making his professional debut.

He hasn’t done enough just yet to force his way into Ireland’s highly competitive back-row equation, but he knows what’s required to change that. There were encouraging words from Joe Schmidt following the Wolfhounds’ loss at Musgrave Park.

“A few days later you step away from it all, you get to look back and think of the areas that didn’t really go the way you wanted on the day,” said Conan.

“And then he [Schmidt] will kind of have a word with you and go through the game, how he felt, how you felt, and you kind of get an idea of where he stands.

“I suppose he just said to me I’m not too far away. A few things like the timing of things; everything is that bit quicker at that level.

“It’s difficult to go from training and then in to play a match and be ready for it, so it does take a few games to get to that level and kind of up-skill yourself — even mentally as much as physically, to think that you have to be there that bit earlier for everything and everything happens that bit quicker.

“Now that I’ve seen that I’ll know what’s coming if I get an opportunity.”

Having been told to improve in certain areas in order to force his way in to Joe Schmidt’s World Cup plans, Conan will aim to begin that process when Leinster face Newport Gwent Dragons in the Pro12 on Sunday at the RDS (3.00pm).

Conan said: “I think I’m 15 or 16 games in to my professional career, so as much as I want to improve and get better, I have a lot to learn.

“And I can’t do any of that if I’m not playing week-in-week-out. So when I’m here with Leinster, I’ll just train as hard as I always do and make those small improvements.”

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IrelandÕs Jack Conan Inpho / Billy Stickland Jack Conan in action for the Ireland Wolfhounds. Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Having had that first taste of the international set-up, Conan insists that it hasn’t been difficult to revert back in to the bread-and-butter of provincial action.

“If anything it makes me a bit hungrier. It shows me the level I want to aspire to and it shows me what I need to do to get there. This is where you get to showcase your talent, what you have learned and what you need to improve on.

“It’s been a year since I made my debut so a lot has happened for me. I’m interested to see what happens in another year’s time.”

If his current rate of progress continues, it certainly will be interesting — and a very exciting prospect for Irish rugby fans — to assess Jack Conan’s standing 12 months from now.

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