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JVDF taking inspiration from Jordi Murphy's post-knee injury excellence

Both back rows suffered serious ACL damage on famous days for Ireland, and Van der Flier is intent on following Murphy’s footsteps.

IT’S A LONG road back from ACL injury, and it’s a route that’s never easily forgotten.

The journey is worthwhile, however, because a new realm of possibilities can open up to bring a reward for all the suffering and graft.

Josh van der Flier and Jordi Murphy both found themselves among the body count on momentous days in Irish rugby.

Van der Flier suffered a horrible twist to his knee while making a carry in Paris, the first installment of Ireland’s glorious Grand Slam. Murphy scored a try before suffering his ACL injury in Chicago. Just as Van Der Flier replaced him and began chopping down All Blacks, Murphy was being carted off and dosed with painkillers.

Jordi Murphy and Robbie Henshaw celebrate winning Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Murphy stormed back onto the international stage this season, giving Ulster fans a glimmer to look forward to next season. And even before he was in green smashing rucks and tacklers, the versatile back row came across as happier, more content, for the heavy dose of perspective that comes in times of injury lay-off.

That form for Leinster and Ireland is currently acting as something of a north star for Van der Flier these days.

“To see how well Jordi’s going now, probably in the form of his life. He had that injury (in 2016) and it is inspiring, you have to look at people who have come off the good side of it and have it behind them.”

Van der Flier was Leinster’s representative at Thursday’s launch of eir Sport’s Pro14 coverage. During the introductions, he was seated alongside Ulster’s luckless Marcell Coetzee and the pair took turns nodding sagely as the other discussed their rehab work.

For the 25-year-old, there are inspirational figures even closer to home who are causing him to channel his competitive spirit against his projected lay-off time. Told he’d be gone ’til November, Van der Flier is turning his diligence to rehab in an effort to be back in the first month of the new season.

“I’m nine weeks in now, so making good progress. I’m hoping to be back, I’m aiming for September. They told me it would be around nine months which would bring me to mid-November time, so I’m aiming for September.

I’m trying to push the physio and get back as soon as I can. I do realise that there’s no point in coming back (too soon) and getting injured straight away again. When I’m right, I’ll come back – as quick as possible suits everyone.”

“It’s a funny injury, but with any of these longer term injuries you can cut time off. I live with Tom Daly and he had a similar enough injury. He cut a month and a half off his return. So, if all goes well…

“There’s no point in just trying to hit the markers. You’re trying to cut back a bit (extra) all the time.

“The physios will be hopefully holding me back if it’s not right and I’ll keep pushing to get back as quick as I can. The physios are smart, they’ll know if I’m ready or not.

“The way I see it: the actual injury healing process is in your head. I’ll try to push and get back as quick as I can, try to improve as quick as I can and the physio knows it’s his job to make sure I’m doing everything right to hit the markers along the way.”

Josh van der Flier goes off injured Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Van der Flier’s ever-positive approach doesn’t mean he is immune to the pang of missing out on the big occasions. He didn’t manage to travel to Twickenham for a close-up view of the Grand Slam success he had a part in kick-starting, but a day trip to Bilbao is in store next Saturday.

There, he will see Murphy play his last European match for his native province. Van der Flier will be sad to see the posterboy for ACL recovery head north. He’d be sad to see Joey Carbery go to.

“It is always sad when lads are moving on,” he says with a knowing smile as he dodges the Carbery issue by putting it in the most general terms. But Murphy’s move to Ulster is sealed, an unwanted reminder that competition can force Leinster’s hand in allowing a homegrown product to depart across provincial lines.

Everyone in Leinster, and in every province, wants to be at the stage where you’re playing really well and you’re starting and you’re so good that they can’t drop you and they can’t let you go. That’s what everyone aims for.”

“You do find yourself thinking those things: ‘what if I was in that situation?’ It’s obviously very tough. It is something you only really know when you are in that situation, what your emotions are, what it feels like.”

“We knew Jordi is leaving at the end of the season,  but it hadn’t really registered with me until our Awards ball last week. We had them all up on the stage doing interviews.

Josh van der Fliereir sport and the Guinness PRO14 have agreed a landmark partnership to broadcast every game for the next three years from the 2018/19 season.Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

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“It is very sad seeing anyone leave, Isa, Straussy, Jordi as well. You never really want anyone to leave. As a Leinster player and fan as well, you want all the players playing if they can.

“If we could have a squad of 100 and just keep everyone it would be handy enough. From my perspective, we want everyone to stay. But, it doesn’t work out like that.”

Archive>> ‘He said ‘Josh you’re good at this”: Sage advice keeping Van der Flier positive on road to recovery

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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