Van der Flier: Dangerous Warriors will be a 'handful'
The physical stakes have never been higher in world rugby and the increased demands placed on the body have been the biggest difference Josh van der Flier has noticed since establishing himself with Leinster.
The 22-year-old is in fine form and has taken full advantage of the absence of many seasoned campaigners, who were on World Cup duty.
His all-action style, exemplified by dominant performances in the back-row, has helped make a mark under new head coach Leo Cullen in the Pro12.
Despite his recent displays on the field, Van der Flier is quick to note that senior rugby offers totally different challenges than he has ever experienced before.
It's a year since his debut against Zebre but he is constantly striving to increase his value within the side.
"Physicality and speed are totally different and it's a big challenge around the breakdown. If you're going in for a poach or something, you get cleaned off. They hit you a lot harder," he sadi.
"Also if someone else is in the breakdown and you've to clear them out, they're just bigger, stronger lads so that's been the biggest thing I've noticed anyway. I'm trying to improve working within the system, especially defensively.
"I've changed up a few things and confidence is probably the biggest improvement area for me. And then communication also. I think seven is a massive area where you need conversation really, talking to people off the back of the lineout and out-half as well."
Inexplicably, Leinster were caught in the blocks last weekend away to the Scarlets, much like Ireland against Argentina, and trailed 25-0 before Isa Nacewa and James Tracy touched down to help finish with a flourish.
After a 25-14 defeat, a recovery is needed tonight against last year's Pro12 winners Glasgow at the RDS. The flanker expects a similarly stern challenge but he is looking forward to testing himself against Fijian international Leone Nakarawa, among others.
"He's a massive threat. You never know what he's going to do and he's a really, really good player. And then they've also got massive threats in the rest of the pack," Van der Flier said. "Hugh Blake, Simone Favaro, Chris Fusaro, they're all really strong players and who knows who'll be back from the Scottish team as well so it'll be quite a handful. After losing to Scarlets it's a massive game for us to put that right."
Not only has the UCD student been grabbing the attention on the pitch, but his dashing red scrum cap is easily recognised by players and supporters alike, and unfortunately referees too, he reluctantly admits.
"I started wearing it in school, it matched the Wesley jersey I suppose and from then on people wouldn't know who I was but they'd know I was the lad who played with the red scrum cap so I just always kept it then," he said.
"I couldn't be bothered getting another one after it so.
"I'm told it makes it a bit easier for referees so that's probably the bad side of it but you'd really want to be doing well with it on."