IN A career where mandatory early retirement is an occupational hazard, two months can be an excruciatingly long time.
Jack Conan’s only salvation is that he didn’t miss much in that period.
Conan marked his return to action last Sunday with several attempts in Leinster’s record win over Montpellier.
It was his first game out since helping Ireland beat the All Blacks in November, withdrawing from next week’s Test against Argentina on the morning of the game with a quadriplegia problem.
But with four matches canceled or postponed because of Covid-19, Conan didn’t miss all of that.
He said: “Everybody loves to train but you want to be out playing and rugby careers are very short. So when you miss two months of gaming that’s a lot.
“I missed two months but I really only missed three games.
“I wasn’t there for that first Montpellier game and everyone knows what happened since then.”
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Leinster showed no tolerance towards a less powerful Montpellier with winning 13 attempts at RDS that can be a great way to get the team back on track, but it’s going to be hard to get them through the tougher challenges ahead.
But Conan said: “There is always something you learn from every game, no matter the outcome.
“I know Montpellier didn’t dribble too hard but I don’t think we missed a rotation in the controversy, that’s really good.
“We spent a normal amount of time looking at the things we did well, why we put the scores on the things we did, and where we could have gone better with the scores. that we spent there.
“It was a bit rusty but the boys were really pleased with the performance we showed and the intention we had. We played for 80 minutes.
“We were at fault in the last game against Bath by letting them take the lead for the last 20 minutes or half an hour.
PERFORMANCE 80 MINUTES BILLION
“It’s something we want to fix and we’re pretty happy with that.
“Personally, I don’t feel ripe enough, so it’s great to have 80 minutes of preparation and play towards this weekend.”
Tomorrow they face Bath at The Rec, where they last played in December 2018, winning 17-10.
And Conan said: “We were there once in recent years and we struggled.
“It was a bad day and if it weren’t for Jordan Larmour’s interception, we wouldn’t have started on the right track.
“So we have no illusions about how difficult it will be when we go through there.
“They have a new defensive coach (Brent Janse van Rensburg), I’m sure they have a lot of energy and are really excited to be back at The Rec and deliver a performance for their fans.
“There are no easy games away from home, so we treat this as a rugby knockout game for ourselves.
“Everybody knows what happened a few weeks before we were due to go to Montpellier and how that decision was made and how the points were awarded after that decision.
“We need every point possible and that was our mindset against Montpellier and that will be our mindset again against Bath.”
The Lions forward highlighted the threat posed by pickpocket Dan Sheehan, who also fell twice over the weekend after coming on as a substitute for Rónan Kelleher.
“He’s a great addition,” Conan said. There aren’t many pickpockets like him and Rónan knocking around.
ROWER BACK TO THE 4th
“In my eyes, their dribbling, speed and feet are what redefine what a hooker can do.
“It’s like having a fourth rower out there.
“These two players can be faster than me, so when they’re in the wider channels you should give them the ball rather than give it to me.”
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/rugby-union/8239679/leinster-jack-conan-bath-champions-cup/ Leinster star Jack Conan is ‘under no illusions’ how a stark test Bath will make in this weekend’s Champions Cup