Wednesday 21 February 2018

Josh van der Flier: Lessons learned - now we want to put things right

Player diary:

'Training has gone well this week as we prepare to face Ospreys'
'Training has gone well this week as we prepare to face Ospreys'

It has been a crazy road since this time last year. Without doubt the 12 months have flown, and looking back on the year there were some great highs but some lows as well.

The 2015/16 season was my first being a part of the senior Leinster Rugby squad. That in itself was an achievement and one that I was very proud of. You work so hard and your family and friends play such a huge role in that journey that to get there in itself is worth appreciating.

But pretty soon a big year for me turned into a huge year for me as I was fortunate enough to make my European debut against Bath in the Rec and then a few months later my international debut in the Six Nations. The highs were certainly that and I loved every minute.

However it was disappointing both individually and collectively that we couldn't finish off the year with silverware. We put ourselves in a great place but unfortunately couldn't see it through against a very good Connacht side.

Adding to the disappointment an ankle injury ruled me out of the semi-final and final of the Pro12.

This was a very frustrating time having to watch from the sidelines and very quickly another lesson was being learned. That sometimes the highs you experience as a rugby player are fleeting and can be followed very quickly by the down days.

Ospreys' Justin Tipuric. Photo: Sportsfile
Ospreys' Justin Tipuric. Photo: Sportsfile

Having had time now to reflect and take it all in, I am of a mind to look on the positives. Yes it was annoying but fortunately it was only the end of the season that I missed and not the start of this one too, and I think that the disappointment of the Pro12 Final last season will only drive us on to go one better this year.

It is important that as a team we learn from the disappointments of last season and use that to our advantage.

In the blink of an eye we're up and running again and it's great to have the season under way! It is all about building momentum now and trying to get a run of performances.

Edinburgh was a tough test. We played well for the majority of the match but were punished when we took the pressure off. But, away from home, a win is a win and to get a bonus point as well was particularly pleasing.

Josh van der Flier lining our for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Josh van der Flier lining our for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile

This week against Ospreys will be as tough a challenge as there is in the Pro12. They are top of the table on 15 points and are the team to beat. It is massive for us to close the points gap on them. The Pro12 is as competitive as it has ever been and every point is massively important.

With a Friday game this week, training is a bit more condensed with less time to prepare. But there has been a lot of energy and having the internationals back in the mix has really added to the sessions.

The experience they bring to us younger lads is massive and has been a major contributor to the success of a lot of younger players coming through last season and indeed this season, with Andrew Porter, Rory O'Loughlin and Joey Carbery showing up very well.

The Friday game means our day off was Tuesday. It's important to switch off at some stage and get some recovery in. Living with a few of the lads (Tom Daly, Adam Byrne and Peter Dooley) helps a lot as we would all be working off the same schedule.

This week we just relaxed around the house on the day off and went for a few pucks in the afternoon. Dooley is a big hurling man so he has us all roped in now and with his dad being a Tipp man he's had the hurl out more often than usual lately.

The FIFA 17 demo on the PlayStation has also just come out so things are getting heated in the household. Tom is yet to win a game and is not happy but his time will come.

With Ospreys this week I'm hopeful to get the chance to play against an openside of the quality of Justin Tipuric, he is someone who I have looked up to and have tried to learn a few things from. A Welsh international with 43 caps, he will be a difficult man to keep quiet but those are the challenges that motivate you.

Irish Independent

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