van der Flier: “This season has been incredible for me”
April 19, 2016 12:00 am client
A fast start to the second half was key to Leinster’s bonus point victory over Edinburgh in the RDS Arena on Friday night, according to 22-year-old openside Josh van der Flier.
The Wicklow man bagged his third try of the season in the 51st minute of Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 match at the RDS Arena, with Ian Madigan’s conversion making it 20-8 to Leinster.
Van der Flier’s try capped a breathless opening 12 minutes to the second half that saw Luke McGrath go over for the game’s opening five-pointer, followed three minutes later by Edinburgh scoring one of their own through Tom Brown.
“With it so tight leading into half-time we knew we had to have a fast start [to the second half],”van der Flier said after the game,”that’s kind of what we said at half-time. Defence wasn’t quite up to scratch but in attack we came out pretty quick.
“As good as Edinburgh are – they’re a really good side – we’re disappointed to concede three tries. Our defence has been, probably, our strongest point this season and it was disappointing that it was defence that was the negative today.”
As for the positives, van der Flier’s try made it three for the season to top off a man of the match performance. The flanker took a pass from Noel Reid just inside the Edinburgh 10 metre line after the centre intercepted a pass in midfield.
Here’s how Harpin’ On Rugby’s Jeff Pagano described what happened next in his match review:
“To all intents and purposes, he [van der Flier] had “no right” to get the ball the rest of the way. But just look at the expression on his face as the first tackler approaches. Nothing but steely-eyed determination. ‘You think you can stop me? Go on then…have a go.’ There was probably enough momentum for him to get to the 5m line at best. Yet somehow he found enough to fend off the tackler, get it over the line and with a team-leading 17 tackles also under his belt, it’s no surprise that he won the man of the match gong.”
Friday night made it 17 Leinster appearance for van der Flier this season (12 starts). That, plus the small matter of his senior international debut for Ireland in the 6 Nations this year, has made this season a dream one for the former Welsey College student.
“Pretty much every game, every day nearly, I’m pinching myself, just loving every minute of it really. This season’s been incredible for me.”
The secret to his success this year? Hard work. And a notebook.
“I think I worked pretty hard throughout the summer and pre-season. At this point last season I was just beginning my time out injured – I was injured pretty much at least until the end of pre-season. Obviously it’s better to be playing than injured and I’ve worked hard on a good few bits of my game and just managed to get those opportunities early in the year. It’s been very surreal from then on. I’ve been taking each game as it comes, trying to do as well as I can.
“I do write a lot. I keep my notebook around with me and try and take down whatever’s relevant for that week. I probably have to work a bit harder to remember things, I wouldn’t be as good at remembering moves. I probably have to work that bit harder maybe to make sure I have everything in my head.”
He also sought the advice of a Leinster legend early in the campaign, and has picked up nuggets of advice wherever he can from the senior players within the Leinster squad.
“I had a good chat with Shane Jennings at the start of the season. I met up with him at the beginning of the season during the World Cup period and he just talked me through what he used to do. He’d be, obviously, a lot better professional than me and I learned an awful lot from him. Then seeing people like Johnny (Sexton), Jamie Heaslip, all those lads, I’m just learning from all the players around me.”
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