Joey Carbery may have learned a harsh lesson in Glasgow last week when his intercepted pass gifted a Glasgow try and turned the game on its head, but Josh van der Flier knows a thing or two about rookie errors at the highest level.
He can smile at the memory now.
“Yeah, in a pre-season game last season I dropped the ball over the line when I was clean through,” he explained. “It’s tough. It’s a learning curve. I suppose it is something you have to try and get used to but just try and focus on the next thing.” Van der Flier is proof that one mistake need not be fatal.
Another recollection of his from this time 12 months ago was a routine weekly press conference where he elucidated an ambition that went little further than banking the odd bit of game time while the elders were away at the World Cup.
By the time the season ended, he’d added 13 Leinster starts and five appearances off the bench to his half-dozen cameos from the season before, played all but one of the club’s six European ties and claimed his first two caps for Ireland.
He admits to being as surprised by that body of work as anyone although the spectre that is second-season syndrome doesn’t seem to haunt him as he looks to build on the previous campaign and ward off the claims of subsequent graduates.
Leinster’s depth of underage talent is the envy of the other three provinces and Carbery is in the vanguard of this year’s class seeking to engineer a permanent place for themselves in a senior dressing-room which has lost considerable experience in recent years.
“There’s loads of talent,” said van der Flier. “Pre-season you get a lot of the academy lads training. They have been absolutely brilliant. We’ve had Joey down and Rory O’Loughlin was brilliant as well. We had some really, really good players and everyone is itching for their chance really.”
That intercept aside, Carbery has taken his chance with aplomb. The young out-half scored two tries and gave a generally composed performance against Benetton Treviso on the opening day of the Guinness Pro12 at the RDS and he was impressive again for the first 50 minutes in Scotstoun last weekend.
With Jonathan Sexton still being declared unavailable for now, the youngster should avail of another shot at out-half in Edinburgh tomorrow evening and van der Flier doesn’t believe there will be any difficulty in putting last week’s blunder to bed.
“Oh, I just think you have to live in the moment and try and play the next ball,” said van der Flier. “That’s all you can do. Just encourage them. That’s something that senior lads would have said on the pitch as well. Leaders like Luke McGrath, straight after any time we conceded a try, (said) to just focus on the next ball. Thinking about your mistakes and stuff you are just going to end up making more mistakes so just focus on the next thing.”
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