Autumn Nations Series: Jack Conan wants Ireland to build on Springbok win

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Ireland’s statement win over the world champion Springboks is both a benchmark and a launchpad for future challenges but there are also “massive areas” for improvement.

That is the word from British and Irish Lions back-row Jack Conan after Ireland held onto top spot in World Rugby’s rankings list courtesy of that narrow 19-16 triumph over South Africa.

Keen to start

Conan has made four consecutive appearances from the bench for Ireland and is hoping to be called up to the starting line-up for their next Test against Fiji at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

Ireland’s final Autumn Nations Series Test is against Australia at the same venue on November 19 before they turn their focus to the Six Nations and Conan wants the team to maintain their current high standards.

“The lads set an unbelievable platform at the weekend, the 15, the 23 that ran out,” said the 30-year-old.

“We spoke this week about that being the status quo now and we need to push on from that and get better.

“That is going to be the challenge because lads went so well on the weekend.

“It’s massive (the result), you want to play against the best teams in the world – we are the best team in the world at the moment.

“It’s a platform and a springboard going forward. We took a lot of lessons from it.

“There are massive areas we can get better at but it’s great with Fiji this week, Australia next week and leading into the Six Nations that we have that good performance under our belt.”

Ireland start their 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign against Romania and although the kick off to the global showpiece is still 10 months away, rugby fans are already counting down the days to the tournament’s kick off.

Conan feels Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series Tests will serve as ideal preparation for their World Cup challenge.

And although the clashes with the Springboks and Wallabies will generate plenty of interest, the Leinsterman believes Fiji will also prove to be tough adversaries.

“We spoke earlier about the bumps and bruises, lads picking up knocks and stuff,” said Conan.

“It’s the nature of the game and come the World Cup it’s going to happen, people are going to drop in and out, people are going to be unavailable for certain games so it shows the real strength in depth.

“It’s a great statement for how well prepared the team is at the moment.

Expects Fiji to play expansively

“Fiji will play far more expansively than South Africa. The ability they have to a man to beat people one-on-one is some of the best in the world.

“There will be no time to switch off or catch your breath really. It’ll be a consistent performance that is needed to beat them.

“They are big men as well. There will be more one-off collisions in that they are more unpredictable than South Africa. It’s definitely a different challenge for us.”

READ MORE: Ireland: Conor Murray to miss the rest of the Autumn Nations Series campaign due to injury

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