Van der Flier is no O'Connell

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 08:45
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NEWS: Irish flank Josh van der Flier dismisses suggestions he has replaced icon Paul O'Connell as the workhorse of the team.

Van der Flier earned plaudits from coach Joe Schmidt for his performance against New Zealand and despite many labelling him the workhorse of the team, the Leinster man says his work rate has not earned him the right yet.

"I take it as a compliment but looking back at the video there was definitely times when I was pretty tired and jogging back fairly slowly, so I don't know if I have quite earned that title.

"It's something to work on, that side of the game. If you can't be making the big plays, then instead of making 10 tackles, you can make twelve or fifteen tackles and have more involvement in the game. These are the games you want to be playing, especially as a back row," he said.

However, van der Flier says his belief in that he belongs at this level has risen on the back of playing two Tests against the All Blacks in quick succession - he replaced injured try scorer Jordi Murphy in the historic 40-29 win over the New Zealanders in Chicago and CJ Stander in Dublin.

"It gives you confidence I suppose.

"I would have watched Ireland play Australia, New Zealand and those kind of teams all the way growing up and you don't really know, even though you play Celtic League and European Cup, you don't really know if you'll be good enough at that level.

"It gives you a lot of confidence that you don't look too out of place. It gives you confidence in that regard," he added.

The 23-year-old is likely to be in the starting XV and win his fifth cap against World Cup finalists Australia on Saturday and is expecting a massive challenge from the Wallabies' loose forwards.

"[David] Pocock is as good a seven [openside] as you get really, he's probably been one of the best if not the best sevens of the last five or so years. So he's been brilliant.

"And then [Michael] Hooper as well has been unreal. [Scott] Fardy and [Lopeti] Timani as well. They're all brilliant back rows so every game is going to be hard," he stated.

Agence France-Presse