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'He was exceptionally good and picked up where he left off'

Josh van der Flier was named player of the week on The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast.

Van der Flier was man of the match for Leinster against the Bulls.
Van der Flier was man of the match for Leinster against the Bulls.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

COMPETITION FOR PLACES in Ireland’s back row will be as strong as ever this season, meaning Josh van der Flier’s superb showing for Leinster on Saturday against the Bulls was well-timed.

The Wicklow man was named player of the match after his side’s 31-3 win on the opening weekend of the United Rugby Championship.

Van der Flier was also analyst Eoin Toolan’s choice as player of the week across the competition on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – a podcast available to members of The42 every Monday during the rugby season.

“He was a symbol of the Leinster performance,” said Eoin. “The first try was a classic Leinster try off counter-attack where James Lowe does really well, then a lot of those catch-pass skills we’ve been talking about between forwards and backs get the ball to van der Flier.

“His initial acceleration to break through the Bulls defence and then the power to run over the Bulls fullback to score encapsulates a lot of the progress that van der Flier has made over the last year from an attacking perspective.

“Then the stats defensively were really good. He was Leinster’s top tackler with 20. He was their top rucker with 26 breakdown arrivals, so as well as the attacking prowess, he was really, really good defensively.

“It’s something we’ve come to expect from van der Flier and it was a fantastic performance from him.

“He’s my player of the week. For the fourth Leinster try that Ross Byrne finished, van der Flier was central to that as well. His lovely acceleration and his ability to find Ringrose on the support line for the offload, that was a great moment.

“Both sides of the ball, he was exceptionally good and picked up where he left off last season.”

Eoin picked out Simon Zebo’s second try for Munster in their win over the Sharks as his play of the week on today’s podcast.

Zebo had a simple finish at the end of a flowing Munster attack in their 42-17 victory over the South African side.

“It had a little bit of everything to it from the RG Snyman offload that started it, then the catch-pass from Mike Haley and the kick from Dan Goggin on the edge,” said Eoin.

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“It was a beautifully worked try and the highlight of the game from a Munster perspective.”

Elsewhere on the podcast, Eoin and Murray Kinsella discussed the four provinces’ performances in the URC over the weekend and looked at Ireland’s failure to qualify for the Women’s World Cup.

The lads also spoke about the All Blacks’ win over the Springboks and the Wallabies’ revival in the Rugby Championship after the returns of Samu Kerevi and Quade Cooper.

You can sign up as a member of The42 here in order to listen to the extra rugby podcasts and a wide range of other shows on sportswriting, football, GAA, and coaching, as well as getting weekly newsletters and access to our lively member-only Whatsapp groups.

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