CJ Stander has revealed how Paul O'Connell saved his career

The current Munster captain made his Ireland debut last week against Wales

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Ireland’s CJ Stander after the Wales game. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

CJ Stander's performance on his Ireland debut was one of the highlights of the 16-16 draw last Sunday.

Stander joined Munster in 2012 after leaving South Africa when told he had no chance of playing for the Springboks. The 25-year-old moved to Limerick and the rest is history.

Speaking in Saturday's Irish Examiner, Stander reveals that former Munster and Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was instrumental in staying with Munster after a testing first season in Ireland.

"He saved my career for sure,” Stander told the Irish Examiner. “After the first year at Munster it was tough but he came to me after every team announcement and just said ‘keep the faith lad, keep the faith’.

“I’d be close to almost crying and he’d come up to me, this mountain of a man, Paul O’Connell. He doesn’t have to talk to me, he’s the captain of Ireland and he can just go on and do his own stuff."

O'Connell retired earlier this week, after failing to recover from a hamstring injury sustained in the World Cup against France. Stander couldn't praise the Limerick star highly enough. "He’s the most humble man I’ve ever met and the biggest rugby legend I’ve ever played with."