Jack Conan has said that he feels “vindicated” after starting for the British and Irish Lions in all three tests against South Africa.
Ireland and Leinster number eight Conan was a surprise inclusion in Warren Gatland’s Lions squad this summer, having only started in one of his country’s Six Nations matches this year.
Conan massively impressed in that sole start against England, scoring one try and playing a crucial role in Keith Earls’ score, but frequent injury struggles in recent years had prevented the Wicklow man from stringing together a number of good performances.
The 29-year-old was speaking at a Leinster press conference and admitted that his performances in South Africa silenced his own doubts he had about himself.
Jack Conan on silencing his own doubts on tour with the Lions.
“Sometimes you have that little voice at the back of your head that doubts yourself a little bit. And I feel a bit vindicated after playing so much and playing such a part in it all,” Conan explained, via the Irish Mirror.
“I feel it’s maybe a little bit easier to silence that kind of noise a little bit more now because I have a little bit more money in the bank in certain regards.
“It’s just sometimes you get it. Even last week, I hadn’t played a game, I was nervous and stressed about playing my first game back for Leinster, against the Scarlets.
“You kind of doubt yourself a little bit. You think, ‘Oh I want to hit the ground running’ but it’s tough after 10 weeks off to come back and pick up where you left off.
“You’re constantly having those conversations, that inner dialogue with yourself and trying to put it to bed as quick as I can if I have a negative thought or doubt myself.”
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) October 21, 2021
Big November ahead with Ireland.
Conan will be expected to start for Ireland at number eight next month after his exploits with the Lions, especially after the surprise retirement of CJ Stander last season.
There are a number of players who can fill in at number eight in Ireland’s November squad; Conan’s Leinster team mate Caelan Doris, Munster’s Gavin Coombes and Ulster’s Nick Timoney.
However, all of Conan’s competitors are younger and less experienced than him, while all three can also play in other positions in the back row, with himself and Doris both starting in Leinster’s match against Glasgow Warriors tonight.
While Conan can expect to feature prominently for Ireland this season, he will need to be at the top of his game if he wants to lock down the number eight jersey.