Jack Conan has revealed that No. 8 rivals Taulupe Faletau and Sam Simmonds were the first to congratulate him after he was named in the Lions’ team for Saturday’s first Test.
The Leinster back-row will start in Warren Gatland’s side to face South Africa alongside Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes.
Such a selection might have surprised some, given Faletau’s standing with Gatland and the Lions, were it not for the recent form of Conan.
It’s certainly hard to begrudge the Irishman his big moment.
Having suffered with injuries, Conan admitted he wouldn’t have dreamed of a Lions call-up around the new year, yet here he is preparing for a first Test against the Springboks.
And he added that the two players he’d got the nod ahead of, Faletau and Simmonds, couldn’t have been more gracious.
“We haven’t spoken too much,” said Conan.
“To be fair, Toby and Sam were two of the first lads to come up and congratulate me for being named in the Test team.
“It’s 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.”
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Conan added that he hadn’t held too much in the way of a conversation with the Welsh stalwart, but he could well lean on some of the experience that Faletau has gleaned over two previous tours.
“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.”
And when asked why he might have got the call by Gatland, the affable Irishman remained true to his modest self.
“That’s a good question,” he said.
“I suppose, not to pat myself on the back too much, I’ve been pretty consistent the last few games.
“I’ve worked hard, tried to show what I’m about in every chance I’m given by the coaching staff.
“Maybe that’s made the difference. You’d have to ask Gats.”