Leinster and Ireland back row speaks to Off The Ball
For Ireland international Josh van der Flier, the last 18 months have been pretty meteoric in terms of how far he has come.
The Leinster back row has won seven caps for Ireland since making his debut in the 2016 Six Nations match against England and was also involved in the famous and historic win over New Zealand last Autumn.
"It was pretty surreal, the whole experience really. I was named in the squad to travel and you're hoping, maybe I'm in with a shot but there was also some very good players there and enough to cover the back row. So you're trying to do all this maths in your head, what team could he go for and all that kind of thing. And to be named on the bench and then to come on pretty early as well was pretty incredible," he said on Off The Ball, before touching on the moment he took to the field.
"I remember being incredibly pumped up just watching. Normally on the bench, I'd be quite calm, whereas if you're watching from the sideline or watching on TV, you get really pumped up. But I was raring to go and getting on, I was pretty nervous.
"I just remember thinking, 'this is arguably the best team of all time' and you're playing against them now and it's pretty scary at the time and then I just got a tackle in at the start and just forgot who you're playing. It was just a normal game them. "
Leinster have been doing better, in the Pro 12 and in Europe, in comparison to this time last season and young players from that past campaign have now stepped up this time.
"We learned a lot from that. A lot of us younger guys would have got capped in the European Cup last year and I suppose that experience helped us this year. It could be a bit down to that," said Van der Flier.
And the positive momentum from lessons learned have been a big benefit in 2016-17.
"For Leinster, it's just been going well. We've got momentum through the season, everyone's enjoying their rugby, Stuart [Lancaster] coming in has really helped us a lot as well," he said.