Tuesday 20 August 2019

Van der Flier: Last season's Euro woes made us stronger

Van der Flier: We’ve taken a lot of confidence from the Pro12
Van der Flier: We’ve taken a lot of confidence from the Pro12
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

When Josh van der Flier talks about the impact that the "younger" players in the Leinster squad have made this season, it's easy to forget that he only turned 23 earlier this year.

The flanker's performances for both club and country have been mature beyond his years, and perhaps the most exciting thing about his talent is that he can still improve.

Leinster's European campaign is a far cry from what it was at this stage of last season, and Van der Flier believes that is largely down to the fact that less experienced players like himself learned plenty of lessons from that disappointment.

"We got off to a bad start last year and a good few of the lads were involved in that, and we learned a lot from it," Van der Flier said.

"We've taken a lot of confidence from the momentum we've built in the Pro12 as well, and that added experience. . . especially from the Bath game being the biggest standout last year.

Confidence

"There were a good few young lads playing and we managed to get the win and that really gave confidence to those younger lads, and that's one of the reasons why we're doing quite well this year."

As well as Leinster are playing, no-one within the province is getting ahead of themselves, particularly with a Northampton side gunning for revenge in Dublin tomorrow.

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Although he wasn't involved three years ago when the Saints reversed their home defeat at the Aviva, Van der Flier understands the importance of not losing focus on the task at hand.

"They're going to come at us really hard, as they did at the weekend, but having seen us play, the way we attack, the way our game-plan was set up, they'll be really ready for us this time," the former Wesley College student said.

"When you're involved in a loss, and then you're coming back. . . we lost to Toulon last year and then you're desperate to put it right then in the Aviva, and that's the way Northampton will be thinking.

"They've a pretty good history of doing it as well. I remember last year, they played Racing and got hammered, then the next week they drew 9-9.

Perform

"And then before that as well against us, we beat them and then they came to the Aviva and beat us pretty well as well - so definitely we have to be on our game and perform as well as we can."

An emphatic 37-10 victory in Franklin's Gardens would appear to have been the perfect result for Leinster, but Van der Flier is adamant that his side can improve again tomorrow evening.

"There are things we were disappointed with and obviously there will be things they will be disappointed with as well," he added.

"We gave them a few opportunities in attack where they could have scored and maybe just that last pass didn't go to hand or whatever.

"We know they are a really, really dangerous team and same as any team we know if they get things right they can be very, very difficult to beat.

"You can certainly learn from what went well and see what you didn't too well and try and change that.

"If you concentrate on your own performance, and perform as well as you can, if you can execute it really well than you probably can do the same things twice."

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