Ronan O'Gara has predicted that rugby is going to get a whole lot tougher for CJ Stander
CJ Stander faces into his first inter-provincial derby since becoming a fully-fledged Ireland international and former Munster team mate Ronan O'Gara believes he will face greater challenges since his breakthrough Six Nations.
Stander carried like a man possessed in Ireland five encounters and crossed the tryline against Italy and Scotland as he made a seamless transition to international rugby.
His form was so good that it surprised Ronan O'Gara but the former Munster flyhalf sees it getting tougher for the South-African born flanker as he gets more exposure to the highest level of rugby.
"He was the big success story from Ireland's point of view (in the Six Nations), I knew he was always a great player, I played with him but I never realised he would have as big an impact as he had, he was probably second only to Billy Vunipola in terms of impact on the whole campaign and that says a lot," O'Gara told Game On on 2FM.
"He's going to be marked now. It's different, the first six months is a honeymoon period when you come out of international rugby. People know you but they don't analyse you when you start off your international career from zero to six months but from 6-12 months is a little bit more difficult and year two is even more difficult.
"He's an extremely effective ball-carrier and I probably wasn't to sure how it would go at international level but he has taken it to a now level.
"It sounds like a contradiction because it should be more difficult when you go up a level.
"I think he's very humble, he's very hardworking and he keeps the game very simple. he's not a flash passer, he doesn'trun straight into brick walls but he has the capacity to do it.
"He's an interesting athlete and he's turned into a very good rugby player."
Former Leinster and Ireland hooker Shane Byrne can't see motivation being a problem for Stander when he skippers Munster against a Leinster side laden with his international team mates at the Aviva on Saturday.
"I think CJ Stander will learn very, very quickly that the people you know best are the people you want to lose to least," he said.