CJ Stander has impressed in the Irish jersey this year
CJ Stander has enjoyed a fruitful debut year in an Irish jersey.
His impressive displays during the Six Nations, coupled with his contributions in the Autumn Tests, have cemented an almost guaranteed starting place in Joe Schmidt’s team heading into 2017.
The South African born player endeared himself to the nation when footage captured him singing Amhrán na bhFiann ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations clash against Wales.
Speaking to Joe Molloy on Off The Ball this evening, Stander elaborated on the efforts he went to, to ensure he could sing the Anthem proudly.
Stander said he started out by working with a man from Australia to learn how to sing the lyrics phonetically. He also thanked Donnacha Ryan for forcing him to persist with rehearsals two days before the game against Wales.
"Everyone has always supported me in Munster. When the opportunity came for me to play (for Ireland), everyone supported my decision and I just wanted to show them that I appreciate everything… and to the coaches and supporters and my family."
“It took me a while (to learn the National Anthem). I don’t know where he got it but he sings with an Australian accent, he just learns you different words. It’s not Amhran na bfhiann (words) but it’s similar.I said to Donnacha Ryan ‘I think I need some help and we sat in a room for about four hours until I sang it without making a mistake. At stages it got awkward where I was sitting there, I think James Cronin was in the room and I had to sing to the two boys and I said ‘this is awkward,’ but they said 'you’re gonna sing and I’m not taking no for an answer.'"
"If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have stuck with it. I really enjoy it. It means a lot to me and I can see how much it means for the sport. I had to take a bit of honey to make sure the voice was ok."
Stander also issued a word of thanks to his former coach Heyneke Meyer whose request to move Stander to hooker when he was plying his trade in his home nation, ultimately led to his transfer to Munster where his career was saved.
"It was difficult at that stage. We had a chat about moving to hooker, he said 'otherwise there’s not gonna be a new contract or your contract is gonna be the last one that you sign.'"
"I can only say thanks to Heyneke Meyer for what he’s done for me, he pushed me into a corner. I’m still trying but it’s a lot more enjoyable now."