'I can't take this': CJ Stander reveals how he almost left rugby and how he found a home in Ireland

The South African native will return to his home country next weekend but he will be in the Irish colours

'I can't take this': CJ Stander reveals how he almost left rugby and how he found a home in Ireland

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

CJ Stander qualified for the Irish jersey this year on the back of the current residency rule.

But under the former Springbok coach Heyenke Meyer, Stander found himself feeling lost. Coaches wanted him to switch into the position of hooker and the former South Africa U20 captain came close to stepping away from the sport entirely.

Speaking to Ruaidhri O'Connor of the Irish Independent, he said:

"It came down to me going to the farm or going somewhere else. I was just emotionally drained, I couldn't fight this thing any more and I rang my Dad and I said 'look, you have to come up to Pretoria and talk to the people here because I can't take this."

"He came up and had a meeting and afterwards he said, 'this is a shambles. If there's something else, go for it or you can come home to the farm. It's not going to be the same money, but at least you'd enjoy it'.

"You want to be wanted. You get knocked down, you get knocked down and you just have to look for something else."

And in Munster, Stander discovered a place he could adopt as his new home.

"I knew it was on the table to play for Ireland one day and seeing how big rugby is in Ireland, the supporters, the culture. I was getting this feeling that I wanted to play for Ireland that I can't really describe."

"It was a bigger feeling than I'd had for the Springboks."

"I would love to say the farm is home, but it's not. The last eight years, I'm there for a week or two weeks at a time and that's not enough. When I'm on vacation in South Africa, Limerick is home. My stuff is here."