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'I couldn’t do anything wrong because I’d just be slated for it'

By PA
Josh van der Flier of Ireland prepares to throw a lineout during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Scotland and Ireland at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland star Josh van der Flier feels his team-mates have “long forgotten” about his status as World Player of the Year.

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The Leinster flanker goes into the Rugby World Cup as the holder of the sport’s ultimate individual prize following a string of stellar performances across 2022.

Van der Flier was on the receiving end of some good-natured jibes in the aftermath of claiming the award ahead of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, France skipper Antoine Dupont and South Africa’s Lukhanyo Am.

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The unassuming 30-year-old admits the recognition gives him further confidence to perform on the biggest stage but says the in-house references and ribbing have ceased.

“It’s long forgotten about now,” he said. “It’s kind of back to normal, I think.

“It was funny for the first while because I couldn’t do anything wrong because I’d just be slated for it.

“It’s normal enough now.

“I suppose if anything it (the award) gives you a bit of confidence, for me anyway, that I can play well at this level. That’s all I get from it now at this stage, I suppose.

“It was a great honour but it feels like a long time ago now.”

Van der Flier was only the third Irishman to receive the award following Keith Wood (2001) and Sexton (2018).

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He backed it up by helping Ireland win the Guinness Six Nations grand slam and retain their spot at the top of the world rankings.

“It’s a team sport and looking back it’s the success of the team that makes the individuals in a team look good or better,” he said.

“But it’s obviously nice to be in that position coming into a World Cup. You want to be playing your best rugby and hopefully I can try and do that now over the next few weeks.

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“I am definitely incredibly excited to get going.”

Ireland begin their campaign on Saturday afternoon against Romania in Bordeaux ahead of further Pool B clashes with Tonga, reigning champions South Africa and Scotland.

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Wonton 6 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 7 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

18 Go to comments
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