Thursday 18 January 2018

'It's everything I wanted it to be, and probably a whole lot more'

CJ Stander, right, celebrates with Paddy Jackson. Photo: Getty
CJ Stander, right, celebrates with Paddy Jackson. Photo: Getty Sportsdesk

CJ Stander savoured Ireland's victory over Australia and said it capped an unbelievable year. After victory in Chicago against the All Blacks, and a success over the Springboks in Cape Town in which Stander was sent off, toppling the Wallabies at home was a strong way to sign off 2016.

It was especially sweet, coming on the back of the home defeat to New Zealand last week. "After last week we were a bit disappointed," said Stander. "A few boys stepped up, a few boys playing out of position. I'm very proud of the lads."

Rory Best won his 100th cap, and said Ireland's performance made it a memorable occasion. "It's amazing, and to do it out here with the crowd we get. . . we get unbelievable support here. To walk out with my two eldest kids and to take in that moment and look around. It's everything I wanted it to be today and probably a whole lot more. It's a win we're very, very proud of."

He recalled "wave after wave of gold" coming at Ireland early in the second half, and looked forward to the Six Nations.

"We're building and we're reasonably happy with where we are," Best added. "England are setting a phenomenal pace and it's up to the rest of the Six Nations to keep up with that."

Joe Schmidt was thrilled with the resilience shown by his players. "I couldn't have asked for much more," he said. "We got a bit of luck at times that looked like the last pass would have undone us and they didn't quite deliver it.

"A couple of times they were forced errors. Kieran Marmion's hit on David Pocock to force a forward pass. That was probably a defensive highlight. There were a whole sort of highlights.

"There are things we know we have to get better at. We probably got a bit lucky with Australia squandering a few chances they created. We have to be better not to allow those chances to occur."

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