Saturday 17 March 2018

Stander relying on basic instincts in bid to settle old scores

CJ Stander: 'We owe them one' (SPORTSFILE)
CJ Stander: 'We owe them one' (SPORTSFILE)

John Fallon

Derby defeats are hard to stomach no matter what country you are playing in and CJ Stander said the reaction of his Munster coach Anthony Foley summed it all up at Christmas.

Munster were turned over 24-7 by arch rivals Leinster in their own backyard at Thomond Park and the South African said that Foley captured it all afterwards in the changing room.

"I remember when we walked in Axel sat us down and he said 'remember this feeling' and he walked out.

"You don't really have to say much. We lost against a good Leinster side and we know that. But going up this weekend, it is something that will be in the back of our heads."

Stander made his Irish debut in February and featured in all five Six Nations games and admitted there is more pressure to deliver on an international player coming back to his province.

"You can't come back and not perform. If you come back, you need to bring something different.

"I wouldn't say there is going to be a cross on you but you are playing for Irish rugby now and people are going to try to dominate you and try to get into your head and stuff.

"Yeah, first time going back playing against your friend, but we have a job to do and am looking forward to it.

"I've learned a lot. I've learned everything has to be instinct rather than on thought, especially with the first two matches, they were very intense for me.

"The Wales match was very intense. You don't have that much time on the ball.

"What I found in the Zebre match last weekend, the intensity was a bit down. There was a bit of time, you could do something with the ball but for me now it is instinct.

"That is something I have learned up there (with Ireland). I need to bring back down here the energy I had up there. Bring it down here and just play the game," he added.

The new international said the pain of that December defeat is still raw and they will be looking to turn the tables tomorrow at a packed Aviva Stadium.

"They came to Thomond Park and they gave us a hiding," admitted the South African.

"The Sean O'Briens, the Ben Te'os, those boys, they just ran over us, got easy yards and we struggled to get defence into them.

"They scored an intercept try, I think it was 95, 90 metres, Garry Ringrose.

"Yeah, you are always going to owe them when they come down here and do that."

The tight battle at the top of the Pro12 adds huge significance to the latest instalment of Ireland's biggest derby, but Stander believes that they can repeat last season's success when they won 34-23.

That remains the only defeat in 14 Pro12 games at the Aviva Stadium for Leinster.

"This weekend there is a lot of the line for both of us but last year we won both of the two matches.

"They are playing to get into the top spot and get a home semi-final because Scarlets are chasing them for that spot and for our side we have a lot on the line also.

"If we slip up this weekend you know what is going to happen, the season is going to be tough at the end of the year and we want to win stuff."

Defeat is hard to stomach for the stand-in Munster captain and he doesn't want to repeat that after-match dressing room feeling in the Aviva tomorrow.

Indo Sport

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