herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Van could be the Man for Schmidt and Cullen's grand plans into the future

Leinster forward Josh van der Flier (SPORTSFILE)
Leinster forward Josh van der Flier (SPORTSFILE)

Even in the dark hours of adversity, there are glimpses of the sunlight of better days ahead.

It is informative to hear established Leinster players nominate Josh van der Flier as the best forward on the roster so far this season and pay homage to his work ethic.Heck, the openside has, for the present, displaced Ireland World Cup try-scorer Jordi Murphy and Dominic Ryan in the number seven shirt.

The leap from there to Seán O'Brien is a giant one.

But, the rising number of injuries taken on by Ireland's top-man does point towards a long-term future for Van der Flier in Blue. In green too.

Formidable

Just in case the 22 year-old might get ahead of himself, a rotund reminder came his way in the last two weeks from the formidable shape of Steffon Armitage.

"I really enjoyed it anyway," he said, in the manner of someone, for whom Christmas has come early.

"How much effect I had I'm not sure but I really enjoyed it as an opportunity.

"You wouldn't get, very often, to play against a player of that calibre. I did as well as I could. I learned a lot from him."

Really? What exactly did he learn?

"Basically his all-round game, the way he ball carries, the way he always gets in those positions for poaches," added Van der Flier.

"He doesn't always get them but he's probably best at getting up there in those positions with (David) Pocock. He's always over the ball, a pest to play against."

It is one thing to always be there or thereabouts.

The video review reveals all about what sets Armitage apart.

"I think it's his positioning. He reads the game really, really well.

"Watching him back on the video, you see him hovering in behind and he anticipates where the tackle is going to be. He's right there."

While the likes of Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip struggle with the winning of trophies, the winning of a shirt is Van der Flier's primary concern.

And the Wesley College graduate is enjoying the ride so much that losing doesn't quite cut as deeply.

"It's more exciting to win. But I've been happy enough with my own performance over the last while," he said.

"Then, when it doesn't contribute towards a win it's hard to be happy after the game to be honest."

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