Most players burst onto the scene once in their careers.

You know the story. Rave reviews at school, impress in the academy, graduate through the league ranks and get a shot at Europe. Pass that test and there's usually an Ireland cap not far behind.

Caelan Doris would immediately spring to mind. Max Deegan, Gavin Coombes and Will Connors are some of the other back row 'cabs on the rank’, to quote Andy Farrell.

But what about the older, more experienced ‘cabs’? In such a competitive area for Ireland, standing still is no longer an option.

Just ask Josh van der Flier.

The Wicklow man, now 28, made his Leinster debut in 2014 and was capped at international level two years later and has 35 appearances in green to his name.

Long regarded a solid, dependable back rower, getting in mountains of that famous unseen work, he was in and out of Ireland team over the course of the next four years without ever establishing himself as a ‘nailed on’ starter.

But something happened over the course of the last 12 months. Much like team-mate Devin Toner’s renaissance at the start of the last decade, Van der Flier has burst onto the scene again.

Speaking after collecting another man of the match performance against Connacht last Friday, Van der Flier was quizzed about his form and in particular his new-found cutting edge with ball in hand.

"I suppose there are parts of it there very pleasing," he told RTÉ Sport after making 10 runs for 66 metres, beating four defenders and offloading twice, including setting up their second try.

"There’s things I felt I was maybe doing better 12 months ago but I’m feeling really good.

"The carrying has been going well, trying to put more of an emphasis on hitting a bit harder in the tackles and it’s going pretty well. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going at the moment."

"I always tried to do it anyway, always worked on it. We’ve always been blessed in Leinster, there’s always brilliant ball-carriers around the back row and I was always happy enough to hit the ruck whereas now I try and get on the ball a bit more and take charge and get more carries so that’s part of it.

"Then there’s different things I’ve tried to work on ball-carrying-wise, changing it up and trying to put a bit of speed onto the ball.

"I’ve been working on it for a while but it’s kind of a clicked a bit better recently."

Ardie Savea tackles James Ryan

Instrumental in the Autumn Nations Series games, during which the Irish back row that included Doris and Jack Conan outshone the All Blacks' loose forwards, including a certain Ardie Savea, Van der Flier cites the Kiwi as a role model.

He added: "There are different players I take different things from. I remember when I was younger I used to always watch Conrad Smith because he wasn’t the biggest lad but the way he ran he was quite elusive.

"Sometimes you look at players like Bundee Aki, for example. I’ll never be that shape. He’s so chunky and strong. So then I try and look at people who are similar to me.

"Ardie Savea is someone who is brilliant at it. I think a lot of the New Zealand players are always very good yards after contact; Sam Simmonds as well.

"There’s a lot of players who do it well and then I suppose I try and visualize as well. James Ryan has been very good and Caelan Doris has been very, very good at that.

"I suppose I take different things from different people and then I try and visualize doing that myself and then hopefully it translates into training and games."

With Ireland’s style and intent clear from the recent November games, Van der Flier’s new skillset is key to the way Farrell wants to play.

The form of the openside flanker has impressed Hugo Keenan.

"He’s doing incredible," said the full-back of the 6’2", 16 stone forward ahead of Saturday's Champions Cup clash with Bath at the Aviva (3.15pm).

"He's such hard worker, you see it in training, he’s improving so much.

"Any feedback he gets from coaches he’s just so good at learning from it. He’s finding himself out in the wide channels, he’s working with the outside backs and it’s paying dividends. He’s playing great rugby.

"The back row are driving each other on. There is plenty of competition."

Former Ireland captain Donal Lenihan believes he as "brought his game to a different level" in recent months.

The former Wesley College student, who has made 103 Leinster appearances, says a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes and credits former and current coaches at his club.

Hugh Hogan chats to Josh van der Flier prior to Scarlets' game against Leinster in October

"I’ve been chatting to lads about it as well," he continues.

"There’s so many different people you take different things from. Leams (Denis Leamy, contact skills coach), Hugh (Hogan, ex-Leinster coach, now with Scarlets),

"I’ve had extensive chats with both of them around different ways of carrying and I’ve tried to vary it up a bit as well.

"I think that’s one thing that’s really helped me on a practical level.

"I remember speaking to Hugh about it, and Leams as well, and I was chatting Fogs [John Fogarty, ex-Leinster, now with Ireland] along similar lines, like sometimes running at gaps, sometimes running at the person, sometimes carrying low and having a bit of variety and then it becomes harder to defend.

"That’s something I’ve tried to do because I think if you do the same thing the whole time teams just watch it and they know exactly what you’re going to do, so just trying to change it up is another challenge as well that I try and add in."

He’s coming into the prime of his career now couldn’t have picked a better time to add another string to his bow. It bodes well for club and country.

Follow Leinster v Bath (Saturday 3.15pm), Clermont v Ulster (Saturday 5.30pm), Connacht v Stade Francais (Sunday 1pm) and Wasps v Munster (Sunday 3.15pm) via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app or listen to Leinster v Bath and Connacht v Stade on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.