Josh van der Flier's post-match recovery routine could spark a bracing trend
"There's no aura about him, at all."
Ahead of the 2023 Six Nations, Greg O'Shea got a chance to do what so many rugby supporters, and reporters, would love to do - go for a mosey with Josh van der Flier and pick his brain.
The House of Rugby host, and former Ireland Sevens star, met up with van der Flier in Dun Laoghaire before he and his Ireland teammates flew out to Portugal for a warm-weather training camp. On Saturday, in Cardiff, van der Flier and Ireland out all that training and prep to good use as they tore into Wales and won 34-10.
This weekend, in Dublin, the challenge level gets ramped up again as France, the 2022 Grand Slam champions, come to the Aviva Stadium for what is shaping up to be the pivotal game of the entire championship.
On the latest House of Rugby, [LISTEN from 2:20 below], the 2022 World Rugby Player of the Year spoke about how he fuels his body on game-weeks, his match-day routines and how he recharges and recovers after a big game.
Josh van der Flier on his go-to recovery methods
Back in 2021, Josh van der Flier was one of five Irish back rows that Andy Farrell was sharing out minutes between. He was a regular in the Irish set-up but Will Connors looked to have pushed ahead in that battle for the No.7 jersey.
The Leinster flanker says Stuart Lancaster helped him focus his find and reach new performance levels. Van der Flier did something that only now seems simple - he looked at each of his Ireland back row rivals, asked what part of their game he would like and got to work adding his variant on it to his game.
Two years on and that drive, and work, has seen him crowned World Rugby Player of the Year. On Saturday, in Wales, the Wicklow native crashed over for his ninth try of the season and his 10th in Test rugby, overall.
In 2018, van der Flier suffered a bad knee injury in a game against France and admits the slog to return back to rugby was one of his toughest stretches in rugby. Protein shakes and shots of collagen, after knee rehab sessions, were a couple of the 1% gains he was seeking to aid his comeback. "Multi-vitamins and all the omegas were brilliant, too," he adds. "With all these things, you're just looking for those tiny margins that can help."
On his post-match recovery, Josh van der Flier speaks of a preferred method of his, and it may well spark a trend for others across the country:
"It can definitely be tough, just after a game. I'd usually get a protein shake in. I'm not normally that hungry after a game, as your stomach can be all over the place because you've just exerted so much energy."
"As soon as you can, when the stomach settles, I pretty much stuff my face with whatever I can, trying to replace the calories, "the Kinetica Sports ambassador adds. "Then I'd get a sea-swim in. I'd also go for a sauna [the next day] or a walk - anything to loosen the legs up and keeps me ticking over."
Taking him up on his sea swimming vow, Greg O'Shea donned his togs and both lads plunged into the waters around Dun Laoghaire to really wake themselves up.
World Player of the Year Josh van der Flier shares his recovery tips with @GOSofficialpage on this week's @HouseOfRugby ☘👊
Together w/ @bankofireland pic.twitter.com/W1JXsRqphn
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) February 2, 2023
For Josh van der Flier and his provincial teammates, Leinster training starts at 7:30am or 8am on Monday and Tuesday, with smaller meetings, before the entire squad is gathered at 9am.
Wednesday is a down day and Thursday is 'more condensed' after bodies are spared and the next match comes into focus. The Captain's Run is usually 90 minutes to two hours, with either some physio, rehabbing or massage for various players.
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