CJ Stander: I’m going to try to be the best Irishman I can be

The Munster star could win the PRO12 this weekend for the first time

BY Daniel Kelly 10:48 Friday 26 May 2017, 10:48 26 May 2017

CJ Stander Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

When CJ Stander looks back on his career, the coming weeks could be among the most memorable.

The 27-year-old is preparing for Munster's PRO12 Final against Scarlets on Saturday. Less than 48 hours later he flies to New Zealand with the Lions for their ten-match tour.

A former South Africa Under-20 captain, Stander moved to Ireland in 2012, and made his international debut in the 2016 Six Nations. Since then, he has become one of the side's most important players.

Speaking earlier this week to South Africa's Sport24, he revealed that moving to Limerick almost five years ago has helped him in may ways away from the field.

"My roots are in South Africa and I am proud to be a South African. However, on the flipside, Irish rugby and the people of Ireland have pulled me in and have made me feel part of their culture and community."

"Ireland afforded me the opportunity to play international rugby and I want to continue to give back and show the tremendous appreciation that I have for them. They made it an easy transition for us from day one even though I only came over with a few Rands and could hardly speak English at the time."

"Life in Limerick has been good and the people have welcomed us with open arms. I’m always going to be South African, but I’m going to try to be the best Irishman I can be. I feel proud to play for Munster and Ireland, and the heritage at club and national level is unbelievable here. I left South Africa as a boy and have become a man in Ireland."

Stander also revealed that he and his Lions teammates are hopeful of defeating New Zealand in the three-test series over June and July.

"You will probably witness grown men crying if we win", he concluded.

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