Fitzgerald and Stringer back Conan to challenge Stander for number eight 6 months ago

Fitzgerald and Stringer back Conan to challenge Stander for number eight

Former Ireland internationals Luke Fitzgerald and Peter Stringer believe that Leinster number eight Jack Conan may be able to challenge Munster counterpart CJ Stander for a starting spot in Ireland's opening Rugby World Cup match against Scotland.

Conan has been outstanding for Leinster over the last few seasons and starts at the back of the scrum again  on Saturday for the Blues PRO14 final meeting with Glasgow.

He started just one game in the Six Nations - a 22-13 win over Scotland - but Fitzgerald and Stringer both believe that he could challenge current Ireland number eight CJ Stander for a starting berth.

"He's a guy who seems to be flourishing at the moment and I think that's based on the fact that he's actually had a run of games," Fitzgerald said on eir Sport before the game.

"Every time he's played for Leinster over the last few seasons he's been so powerful. He's got that nous, he's got that offloading game that I think Leinster have been able to build on, he's been a key guy for Leinster in the big games and they need him to have a big one today.

"It'll be interesting to see looking towards the World Cup if he can put a bit of pressure on CJ Stander."

Stringer hailed Conan as a natural footballer and said that he has a great chance of usurping Stander at the back of the Irish scrum.

"There's every chance," said Stringer.

"I've been really impressed with this guy and his leg drive through contact. He has offloading skills, he has a step, he's got a bit of a swerve when he runs as well and he just looks like a natural footballer. He's really, really strong and he's got to be there to put CJ under pressure.

"This guy has stepped up and performed every time he's been asked to do so."