Jack Conan was vacationing in beautiful Bali with his partner Ali when he turned 30 this summer, but the idyllic backdrop wasn’t enough to dampen his shock at how quickly time flew by .
That said, it was also a moment colored by appreciation.
Conan reached heights he never imagined would be in his orbit as a budding pro – league and European titles with Leinster, silverware with Ireland and a major role on a Lions tour – but he didn’t. hasn’t finished yet.
Next year’s World Cup is an obvious goal.
Conan played in the opening game of the 2019 Irish tournament in Yokohama but returned home soon after in a moon boot. He therefore does not hesitate to declare his intention for a stage which is still almost a full year further down the track.
“I played against Scotland in that first game but didn’t get a point, good luck. I guess when you hang up your boots and look back, you mean you did your best on the biggest stage. That’s definitely what I want to do before next year.
“So I know it’s 12 months away, but for me mentally and physically it starts now, to make sure I’m in the best possible physical scenario. It’s just a good stepping stone to go from there. It will be a huge year for the club and hopefully for the country as well.
His motivation is initiated by the recent past as much as by future events.
A mainstay in the side of the British and Irish Lions who toured South Africa two summers ago, he has had to make do with a supporting brief off the bench in all three Irish Tests in New Zealand in recent months. It hurts.
In the end, he cashed in just under an hour and while he was happy with his contribution when called up and thrilled to be part of a historic series win, he is open enough to admit that personal disappointment colored the canvas.
“Obviously I would have liked to have had a bit more involvement than me, but that’s the way it is. I probably hadn’t done myself enough justice in the months leading up to this for a number of different reasons.
It makes for an interesting thread to draw from and even more so when he explained how he hadn’t been in the position he wanted to be at times last season, and decisions were made and things tweaked to put him in a better place now.
This honesty and self-awareness is nothing new.
Conan has spoken over the past few years about a tendency to come in and out of games and the need to weed it out, and he’s done a lot of work over the summer to leave himself in a better place when he returns. at work in the pre-season. .
“Without going into the heart of the matter, for several reasons I was not physically where I needed to be. A little over Christmas last year, I felt like I was a little behind, a little off the mark, so the first thing to try and do is physically and I definitely did. I’ve been incredibly fresh the past few weeks and feel stronger and fitter than I have in a long time, which is great. He didn’t do it alone. His partner and fellow players have been sounding boards, as has Stuart Lancaster who is always keen to contact players after international tours to see how things went and where they stand.
Walking the dog ‘ten times a day’ has given him plenty of time to think about everything too and the sum of his thoughts and conversations since returning from tour now boils down to a determination to be more of a factor with the ball in hand and , especially as a source of turnover.
He may get his first chance to test it all out on the road on Friday when Leinster are to welcome back a number of their senior internationals against Benetton at the RDS in the BTK United Rugby Championship, but he is prepared for the long season at come. whatever turns out for him.
“It’s only part of it, isn’t it? It’s constant ups and downs, ups and downs. It’s never easy, it’s never just a straight path. Junctions in the road and obstacles in both directions can’t always be predicted, listen, you have to embrace them and make the most of them when you can.