Talismanic flanker talks about obstacles, advice and role models that have shaped him into one of Irish rugby’s biggest talents
“It was really, really frustrating,” Josh van der Flier says on a grey day in Dublin as, just briefly, his sparkling good cheer and disarming modesty give way to something more tangled. Van der Flier, the consistently excellent flanker in the red scrum cap for Ireland and Leinster, is World Rugby’s player of the year. He was one of the standout performers in Ireland’s recent grand slam, confirming their status as world No 1, and on Saturday he will try to help Leinster beat Toulouse in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup as they set about reclaiming their title as the best team in the northern hemisphere.
But just over two years ago, as he was often kept out of the Leinster and Ireland teams by Will Connors, a dejected Van der Flier felt he had hit an invisible wall. “I was thinking: ‘What more can I do? I’m working on everything and still trying to improve but it’s not quite happening.’ It was so frustrating because Will was actually playing brilliantly. But I also felt like I was playing really well. I remember at one stage he started the game and got man of the match. They rotated the [Leinster] team the next week and I got man of the match. But the following week they picked him to start and he played unbelievably.”
Written by Donald McRae
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2023/apr/24/irelands-josh-van-der-flier-the-next-goal-is-to-try-to-win-the-world-cup under the title “Ireland’s Josh van der Flier: ‘The next goal is to try to win the World Cup’”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.