Jack Conan says Ireland’s victory over world champions South Africa is both a benchmark and a springboard for future challenges, but also believes there are “huge areas” to to improve.
The in-form Irish maintained their grip on the top spot in the world rankings thanks to Saturday’s stunning 19-16 success in Dublin.
Andy Farrell’s men travel to Aviva Stadium fixtures with Fiji and Australia before focusing on the 2023 Six Nations and next year’s World Cup.
Britain’s and Ireland’s Lion Conan is hoping to start in Farrell’s back row against the Fijians this weekend after four consecutive bench appearances and wants to maintain standards of conduct.
“The guys have built an incredible platform this weekend, the 15th, the 23rd which has run out,” said the 30-year-old.
“We talked this week about the status quo now and we have to keep going and improving.
“That’s going to be the challenge because the guys did so well over the weekend.
“It’s huge (the result), you want to play against the best teams in the world – we are the best team in the world right now.
“It’s a platform and a springboard to move forward. We learned a lot from it.
“There are huge areas where we can improve but it’s great with Fiji this week, Australia next week and ahead of the Six Nations that we have this good performance under our belts.”
Although Ireland’s World Cup opener against Romania is still 10 months away, the countdown to the tournament is well and truly on.
Conan believes the series of physical matches in the fall will test the strength of Farrell’s team and serve as solid preparation for a bid to win the Webb Ellis Cup in France.
While the clashes against the Springboks and Wallabies are undoubtedly more high profile, the Leinster man also insists Vern Cotter’s Fiji will not be taken lightly on Saturday.
“We talked earlier about bumps and bruises, guys picking up punches and all that,” Conan said.
“It’s the nature of the game and come the World Cup, it’s going to happen, people are going to come in and out, people are going to be unavailable for certain games, so it shows the real strength in depth.
“It’s a great statement for the preparation of the team at the moment.
“Fiji will play much wider than South Africa. The ability they have for a man to beat people one-on-one is one of the best in the world.
“There won’t really be time to switch off or catch your breath. It will be a consistent performance that is needed to beat them.
“They are also great men. There will be more one-off collisions as they are more unpredictable than in South Africa. It’s definitely a different challenge for us.