Keith Wood praises Josh van der Flier: "He was a nuisance all the time"

Leinster's back-row options this season are impressive

Former Ireland captain Keith Wood and Gerry Thornley joined Off the Ball for Wednesday Night Rugby.

The discussion soon turned to the embarrassment of riches available in the Leinster back-row and speaking to Nathan Murphy, Wood remarked: "I think it's one of those beautiful difficult things because part of all these players being home-grown players are that they want to play for the province. They're not automatically looking to get out of the gap. 

"There has been so many injuries in the Leinster back-row - we haven't ever seen Jamie Heaslip get injured and he got injured for the first time (last season) and the second he got injured - suddenly two more names seemed to pop up in Leinster's back-row so the strength and depth is great for them. 

"It's difficult to manage but a lot of them are young enough to manage well. The guy that I almost feel sad for in many respects is Josh van der Flier because he was brilliant last autumn, then he gets injured, then we don't see him so much.

"Other guys suddenly put their hand up so I'm looking forward to seeing him play and getting as efficient as he was last year. 

"He got over the gain-line all the time. He was a nuisance all the time and an awful lot of the good play for Leinster last year went around him last year so it'll be interesting to see how he gets back up to it. With Dan Levy and Deegan - it's kind of, it's pretty great to see those young guys coming through.

"I think injuries can make or break players. I go back to being injured myself, sitting on the bench for Ireland at 20 years of age and thinking that the world was at my feet and then dislocating my shoulder the following weekend and not playing for nine months an you're kind of emotionally dashed on the rocks and you're trying to figure out if it's over for you and you haven't even started and you've only had a little tiny taste of the big-time and suddenly you're not in there.

"Van der Flier has tasted the big-time. He has delivered on the big stage. I think he's got something special," he added.

The full discussion is available here:

The performance of the South African teams also came up for discussion where big improvements should be seen as the season progresses after two heavy opening round defeats: