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Tuesday 19 September 2017

Outstanding Conan is ready for a different beast in Tokyo

Jack Conan
Jack Conan

This season could probably go on forever as far as Jack Conan is concerned.

It has been that kind of period in his career as Ireland look to make it three wins on tour against Japan in Tokyo tomorrow morning (KO6.40am Irish time, eirsport 2).

The misfortune for Jamie Heaslip to have an operation on his back has been fortunate for Conan.

At last, the number eight has been able to add to his first cap, earned in a World Cup warm-up against Scotland nearly two years ago.

He has been explosive against the US Eagles and in the first Test against Japan, putting down three tries in the two matches.

The manner of the facile 50-22 victory last Saturday will surely draw a dramatic reaction out of Ireland's hosts.

"After the first Test, they're a different beast," he said.

"They are more dangerous because they have something to prove.

"They will have felt like they under-performed, even though, in the latter stages of the game, they were able to put points on us.

"We know they are an unbelievably proud nation and they will bounce back."

Stick

Ireland will stick to what they have been doing well enough to snuff out Japan and trigger a fine exhibition of attacking play.

"We gave ourselves the objective of coming over with three good performances," he said.

"I feel like we're one away from that.

"It'll be another massive 80 minutes and everyone wants to finish the season on a high."

At the same time, coach Joe Schmidt gives hooker James Tracy and second row Kieran Treadwell their first international starts.

There will also be an Ireland debut for scrum-half John Cooney before making the move to Ulster next month.

Changes

Coach Jamie Joseph has made wholesale changes to the Japanese side as a reaction to the lack of commitment from the Brave Blossoms. "We were far from winning last week," said Joseph.

"I am confident there has been a correction around the attitude," Joseph said. "And the leaders have been driving that attitude."

Even so, it would come as a real step backwards in standards were Ireland not to complete a clean sweep of the US and Japan.

JAPAN: R Noguchi; A Yamada, K Matsushima, T Tamura, K Fukuoka; J Ogura, Y Nagare; S Ishihara, Y Niwai, T Asahara, L Thompson, U Helu, M Leitch (capt), S Matsuhashi, A Mafi.

IRELAND: A Conway; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall, J Stockdale; P Jackson, K Marmion; C Healy, J Tracy, John Ryan; K Treadwell, D Toner; R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan.Replacements: N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, James Ryan, S Reidy; J Cooney, R Scannell, T O'Halloran.

Verdict: Ireland.

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