Jack Conan Comments Show The Respect & Bond This Lions Squad Have Built On Tour
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It’s been quite the whirlwind few months for Ireland and Leinster’s Jack Conan, who is set to make his first Lions Test start this weekend against the Springboks.
Conan has endured a difficult time with injury in recent seasons but managed to get himself fit just in time for a good run towards the end of the season, resulting in a surprise British and Irish Lions call-up back in May.
And while many didn’t expect his name to be called out in May, this time around it wasn’t so much of a surprise when Gatland and his coaching ticket named him to start against the world champions on Saturday.
The 28-year-old has been hugely impressive on tour and has certainly warranted his spot in the starting fifteen. But you can’t help but feel for Taulupe Faletau and Sam Simmonds, who didn’t even make the matchday 23.
Faleatau has been a favourite for Gatland over the years for both Wales and the Lions, while Simmonds has had a record-breaking season with Exeter. But their attitude towards their omission is a testament to the respect and bond the Lions players have built on this tour.
“Taulupe and Sam were among the first to come up and congratulate me for being named in the Test team,” Conan told us.
“It’s a testament to their characters that they were the first ones up to say well done. They’re great blokes. We’ve all helped each other massively the last few weeks.”
Conan also noted that he will have no issue going to Faletau for some advice, given his experience with the Lions in the Test arena.
“I haven’t spoken to Toby too much about it but I’m sure if I need any advice, he’ll be the first man I go to,” he said.
“He’ll have lots of words of wisdom.”
As for being selected to start this weekend, Conan called it a “surreal” experience.
“I’ve been pretty consistent the last few [warm-up] games. I’ve tried to show what I am about every chance I was given,” Conan added.
“It was fantastic to hear my name being called out [to start]. I think it is natural to doubt yourself, so it was an anxious time when he [Gatland] was announcing the team.
“Hearing my name called out was surreal. I don’t think it gets any bigger than this.”