Leinster received a significant blow ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Head coach Leo Cullen confirmed that Josh van der Flier had a procedure on a groin injury last Tuesday and will be out for 12 weeks at Leinster HQ this afternoon.
“The surgery has gone well for him but it’ll mean he’s likely to miss the rest of the season,” Cullen told the media.
“Josh has been incredibly unlucky – he missed last year as well, he got injured during the Six Nations against France in the first game when Dan (Leavy) steps in instead.
“Josh has been going incredibly well for us this year, he works hard. It’s just another blow for him but, hopefully, he’ll get himself in good shape again and get himself ready for World Cup plans and games prior to the World Cup.”
The surgery could dent his chances of making Ireland’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Before Ireland’s home clash with France, the 25-year-old spoke with reporters about how he has altered his approach when it comes to contesting at the breakdown after reading All Black legend Richie McCaw’s book.
“What actually changed my mindset was that I was reading a bit of McCaw’s book a few years ago.
“He said he stopped looking at the number of turnovers he got but looked at how effective he was with the number of chances he had.
“That’s probably more the way I’d look at it now. Sometimes I might end up going to too many breakdowns – as in I’m not needed.
“I’m just parked up doing nothing and sometimes I was needed in a breakdown and the ball slowed down because I didn’t get there. So I try and read it as I go and make sure where I should be and not be wasted I suppose.”
The ‘quality not quantity’ approach has worked for the Leinster flank, who has seen regular game time with Ireland with legend Sean O’Brien and club teammate Dan Leavy suffering injuries. Since debuting in 2016, Van der Flier has been involved in two wins over the All Blacks, first in Chicago and then in November’s win in Dublin where he notched 16 tackles on 17 attempts.
“That was the big thing for me anyway watching [Richie] McCaw and [David] Pocock, when you see on the TV however many turnovers they got in the game,” van der Flier said.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now