Dan Sheridan/INPHO Van der Flier in training yesterday.
# the cure
Van der Flier says Ireland are targeting championship to cure World Cup hangover
Leinster and Ireland flanker also backs new cap Caelan Doris to step up to the plate on debut.

JOSH VAN DER Flier insists there is no lingering hangover from last year’s World Cup. Instead, three months after Ireland’s disastrous showing in Japan, there’s giddy talk about starting this new era with a shot at the championship.

“Everyone is kind of over it (Japan),” van der Flier said. “It’s a new group, a good few lads who weren’t in the World Cup have been included in this squad and it just feels really fresh and energetic.

“So the plan is to get out there and try and win this competition. Everyone will be disappointed if we don’t. That’s been the attitude I have had in every competition I’ve ever entered.”

Then again, they had the same intent when they headed off to Japan last September and we all know how that turned out. Yet, history has shown how seasons can quickly turn in a World Cup year, Munster’s Irish contingent putting the misery of France 2007 out of their heads to end that campaign with the Heineken Cup; Leinster repeating the same trick in 2011/12.

Onto this season – and since coming home from Tokyo, van der Flier and Leinster have yet to taste defeat. “Yeah, it’s been going really well,” he said. “I learnt a few things from the World Cup experience but I have to say, it was refreshing to come back to Leinster, to be at home and see family.

“I’ve really enjoyed it with Leinster this season. I’ve been working on a few things and am trying to get a few more carries in the game, trying not to overthink things but put a good bit more intensity into my game. I’ve been keeping mentally fresh too, it’s been pleasing.”

So too has the emergence of yet another crop of talented youngsters – Caelan Doris and Max Deegan having the kind of impact this season that van der Flier and Garry Ringrose produced at the start of the last World Cup cycle.

caelan-doris Dan Sheridan / INPHO Doris' emergence has excited people. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Coming back from Japan – a good few months since he last spent time with him, van der Flier had to do a double-take when he bumped into Doris before a training session. “He’d got huge, had turned into a monster! He has just been really impressive for us; he works really hard and for him to be winning his first cap at such a young age is just incredible. It’s nice to see someone who has been playing so well rewarded for his efforts.

“When I made my debut, I found I was really nervous about the intensity of international matches. I found it a big step up…. the fitness was my biggest worry in advance of the game but when I actually played it, it was the accuracy, the margin for error that I found to be the biggest difference between provincial and international rugby. But Caelan will be fine. He’s well able for it.”

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