Ireland star Josh van der Flier feels his team-mates have “long forgotten” about his status as World Player of the Year.
The Leinster flanker goes into the Rugby World Cup as the holder of the sport’s ultimate individual prize following a string of stellar performances across 2022.
Van der Flier was on the receiving end of some good-natured jibes in the aftermath of claiming the award ahead of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, France skipper Antoine Dupont and South Africa’s Lukhanyo Am.
The 30-year-old admits the recognition gives him further confidence to perform on the biggest stage but says the in-house references and ribbing have ceased.
“It’s long forgotten about now,” he said. “It’s kind of back to normal, I think.
“It was funny for the first while because I couldn’t do anything wrong because I’d just be slated for it.
“It’s normal enough now.
“I suppose if anything it (the award) gives you a bit of confidence, for me anyway, that I can play well at this level. That’s all I get from it now at this stage, I suppose.
“It was a great honour, but it feels like a long time ago now.”
Van der Flier was only the third Irishman to receive the award following Keith Wood (2001) and Sexton (2018).
He backed it up by helping Ireland win the Guinness Six Nations grand slam and retain their spot at the top of the world rankings.
“It’s a team sport and looking back it’s the success of the team that makes the individuals in a team look good or better,” he said.
“But it’s obviously nice to be in that position coming into a World Cup. You want to be playing your best rugby and hopefully I can try and do that now over the next few weeks.
“I am definitely incredibly excited to get going.”
Ireland begin their campaign on Saturday afternoon against Romania in Bordeaux ahead of further Pool B clashes with Tonga, reigning champions South Africa and Scotland.