Leinster's Josh Van der Flier has claimed that if he could trade his EPCR European Player of the Year award for a 2022 Champions Cup final medal, he would.
Last year, Van der Flier and Leinster were bested by La Rochelle in Marseille in the 2022 final. The game ended 21-24 in favor of the Top14 side, thanks to a final-minute try by Arthur Retiere at the Stade Vélodrome.
This week, Leinster and La Rochelle face off in a rematch at the Aviva Stadium for revenge and cup retention reasons.
Despite losing the final, the Leinster backrower has since gone on to win a Grand Slam with Ireland and also won the EPCR European Player of the Year.
Even though he won European Rugby's top prize, the Wicklow native would trade it for more European silverware this weekend.
“It was very strange,” said Van der Flier this week.
“I was obviously incredibly disappointed, but it was a nice personal accolade to get. Looking back, I’m proud of it, but you’d obviously trade anything to have a medal rather than an award like that. So yeah, it’s a huge motivation for me, really. It’s something you dream about.”
🗣️ | "𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘄𝗲'𝘃𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗮𝗯𝘀𝗼𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗺𝗮𝘇𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆."
Josh van der Flier explains the impact the #SeaOfBlue has on matchdays. 🌊 #LEIvSR #HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/28pm9ODHc3
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) May 18, 2023
Leinster's quest for a fifth star on their jersey is also an exciting situation for Van der Flier, and the added bonus of playing at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin has only made the Leinster star more hungry for success.
“We’ve got the dream ahead of us this week,” Van der Flier added.
“We’ve got a European final and a chance to win a star. I think the opportunity it is, having your family and friends there supporting, and obviously you’re staying at home, you’re not travelling abroad, and the Leinster supporters, they’ve been so good, you have them so close, and there will be loads of them at the game.
"You’ll have all the supporters in the pubs all around Dublin and Leinster, they’ll all be supporting us, so it’s incredibly exciting. It’s kind of the dream situation really to be in the final at home.”
Leinster's game against La Rochelle starts at 4:45 p.m. and can be seen on RTE and BT Sport.