SA-born CJ Stander has a point to prove against Springboks

Former Bulls flanker CJ Stander got tired of being told by South African coaches that he was too small to play on the side of the scrum. He got tired of being told he should move to hooker. His father suggested he either go abroad or come farming. So he headed to Ireland where his skill and passion were appreciated. Despite representing South Africa at u-16, u-18 and u/20 (captaining the side at the 2010 u-20 World Cup), he took advantage of World Rugby’s residency rule and qualified to play for his adopted home after three years at Munster. He’s now played 5 Tests for Ireland, scoring two tries, and proving so popular among his fellow players and the fans that he won the Irish Players’ Player of the Year Award and the Irish Supporters’ Player of the Year last month. But he’s not expecting his popularity to spread back home, and is anticipating a fiery reception from the South African fans. No doubt, there’ll be a few choice words for the other two South Africans in the Irish squad – Richardt Strauss (cousin of Bok captain, Adriaan Strauss) and Quinn Roux. – David O’Sullivan

Cape Town – When Ireland take on the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday, they could have as many as three South African-born players in their matchday 23.

CJ Stander, who has quickly carved out a reputation for himself as one of Ireland’s fiercest forwards, is the only one of those three guarnteed a start.

Lock Quinn Roux and hooker Richardt Strauss, meanwhile, might have to be content with places on the bench.

Pic: Twitter
Pic: Twitter

Stander, born in George, left the Bulls for Munster in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.

After qualifying for residency in 2015, Stander made his debut against Wales in February and would go on to start all five of Ireland’s matches in the Six Nations.

It was a forgettable tournament for the Irish, who finished third on the table, but Stander emerged as a resounding success.

Now Stander is back on South African soil, and according to assistant coach Simon Easterby, he will have a point to prove.

Read also: 3 SA players in Ireland team as Mighty Quinn Roux gets call-up

“CJ has shown his form over the last three seasons with Munster … he’s been outstanding,” Easterby said.

“He’s been a real talisman for them and he’s come into our Six Nations squad and done particularly well.

“He plays with his heart on his sleeve and he’s a real leader.

“He’ll be emotional on the weekend along with Quinn and Richardt Strauss … guys that are very passionate about where they were brought up.

“But they are also hugely passionate about wearing the green jersey and that has come through, not only this week but also in the build-up.

“You get a sense that they’re very keen to show the country that they were born in what they’re missing.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00 and both teams are set to be named on Thursday afternoon. – Sport24

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