Josh van der Flier feels that being named World Player of the Year has made him a standout man.
Josh van der Flier believes he has become a man in the spotlight after being crowned World Player of the Year as he looks to celebrate his 50th Ireland cap with Grand Slam honours.
Lineker van der Flair won the world individual prize on the back of a brilliant 2022 and continued his fine form to help his country to the brink of a Guinness Six Nations clean sweep.
The 29-year-old will mark the milestone with England in Saturday’s Test in Dublin and feels his recent rise has brought more attention on the field.
“I think there’s definitely been a few times in games where I get the ball and find I’ve got three guys on me, where I thought I’d have a little bit more space,” Van der Fleer said.
“Maybe not and it’s in my head but there’s definitely been a couple of times where I’ve felt like someone’s been too nice to me or something.”
Asked if there had been any pranks from opposition players during the game, he replied: “Not really, thank you – more guys on my team if I make a mistake!
“(There’s) not been a lot of changes. But I think I definitely look to carry the ball, for example I’m marked a little bit more. But it leaves room for other people. Is.”
Van der Flair will look to make up for the disappointment of missing Ireland’s 2018 Grand Slam clincher against England at Twickenham this weekend through injury.
He demonstrated his team-first mentality by throwing a lineout after Huckers Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher lost during last weekend’s chaotic 22-7 round four rout of Scotland.
Andy Farrell joked that the back-row forward would replace captain Johnny Sexton as the team’s goal kicker against Steve Borthwick’s side.
“It will be a very special day,” Van der Fleer said. “Fifty hats, it has flown by so fast.
“In my mind, I’m trying not to think about it too much; I’m kind of acknowledging that it is what it is, I guess, and also obviously the importance of the big game that Here’s what’s on the line.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about an individual thing like that (50 caps), what we’ve all worked towards is winning trophies for Ireland and big games for Ireland, so definitely all of that. There’s a lot of attention.”
Van der Flier was in danger of falling behind Leinster team-mate Will Connors for club and country a few years ago.
The number seven has overcome that threat to become a key performer for Ireland, earning plaudits from his head coach.
“Wow, what a year for Josh,” said Farrell. “You go back to the story of it, it’s all because of competition for places in Leinster and Ireland – Will Connors coming on the scene, etc.
“Josh was one of those guys who raised his hand, said a word to himself and said, ‘It’s up to me’.
“Since he’s done it, he’s never looked back and he deserves all the credit he gets, because he’s incredibly diligent as far as his preparation is concerned.
“It’s extraordinary to see how he attacks every game.”