Jack Conan wary of England’s backlash as Ireland lurch closer to Six Nations glory

Jack Conan insists there are no easy games against England after helping Ireland stay on course for the Grand Slam, which takes place in Dublin next weekend.

Andy Farrell’s side shook off a serious injury crisis on Sunday, beating Scotland with a 22-7 win that keeps them in pole position for Guinness Six Nations glory.

England will travel across the Irish Sea to spoil the weekend party at St Patrick’s but are reeling from Saturday’s record-breaking humiliation at the hands of France.

Back rower Conan, who won his country’s third and final try at Murrayfield, fears a backlash as Steve Borthwick’s men arrive at Aviva Stadium.

“You see, they faced a top-class French team,” he said. “We beat France a couple of weeks ago and I think they’ve gotten better and better since then and have recovered really incredibly well.

“France is difficult to play, whether at home or away. I thought they (England) had some really good elements in their game but I know they will be disappointed and will look better on Saturday.

“We know how difficult it will be against England at the Aviva. There are no easy games, especially against them, so we have to do our best, recover, take care of each other and be better than we played (on Sunday).”

England was beaten by France (Ben Whitley/PA)

England capitulated to an embarrassing 53-10 drubbing against Les Bleus that emphatically erased them from contention for the Championship.

Ireland, now vying with France for the title, then underscored their status as the world’s top nation by conceding the loss of five key players – Caelan Doris, Dan Sheehan, Iain Henderson, Ronan Kelleher and Garry Ringrose – during a dramatic visit to Edinburgh.

Conan dashed hopes of a Scotland comeback by contributing to goals from Mack Hansen and James Lowe after coming on from the bench within 12 minutes to replace the injured Doris.

The Leinster player, 30, is loving life in the Irish camp.

“It’s the greatest privilege of our lives, I really believe it is,” said Conan, who toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2021.

“We talk about it all the time, these are the best days you’ll ever have.

“It’s just a great bunch of guys. It’s so comfortable. You just jump into camp, you love every second of it.

“We work incredibly hard and it’s difficult, but the madness that we have, the camaraderie that we have, I’ve never experienced in any other squad, in any other team before.”

Jack Conan, left, claimed Ireland's third and final try in Edinburgh

Jack Conan, left, claimed Ireland’s third and final try in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

The early departures of hookers Sheehan and Kelleher against the Scots saw flanker Josh van der Flier throwing lineouts while veteran support Cian Healy filled the gap in the number two role.

Conan felt that the unfortunate and unusual circumstances enhanced the sense of accomplishment.

“The boys laughed,” he said. “You’re in the thick of it and you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ It makes it even more special that you have faced this adversity.

“It was one of the proudest days at Green I’ve ever attended.

“You’re really emotional when you talk afterwards about how proud you are of each other, how much hard work and sacrifice you put into it.”

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