Sunday 20 October 2019

'I'm CJ Stander. I'm the captain now' - Ireland star on his proud moment vs Fiji

18 November 2017; Darren Sweetnam, left, celebrates with CJ Stander of Ireland following the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and Fiji at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
18 November 2017; Darren Sweetnam, left, celebrates with CJ Stander of Ireland following the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and Fiji at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Irish stand-in captain CJ Stander has revealed just what he told referee Paul Williams when he came on after an hour to steer jittery Ireland to victory against Fiji.

“I was excited,” said the Munster man. “When you get a call to go on it's a massive honour.

“I just said to him: 'I'm CJ Stander and I'm the captain now'. And I said about the breakdown what I felt was going wrong.

“He said 'perfect' and we went on. You just make yourself known so he knows who you are and if he looks for you he knows where to find you.”

Ireland, who had struggled in the contact all day, rarely encountered a problem afterwards as Stander and the bench helped Ireland to the winning line.

Stander also made a huge impact from the bench for the Lions in the summer but, although he enjoyed his stint as captain of the side, he doesn't aim to become familiar with a role riding pine.

“It’s the first time for Ireland. I enjoyed it. It takes a bit longer for you to get into the game so you can suss out the game and see what’s the flow and what you need to do when you get on.

“Look I will jump in any jersey where it’s needed. If it’s off the bench then If I need to make an impact then that’s my job.”

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His job this week will be to tame a Puma side who dumped Ireland out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

However, he knows a significantly strengthened Ireland will need to be much better this weekend to complete a Guinness Series clean sweep – even if struggling Argentina are ranked below Fiji.

“There’s a lot of lessons in the game. I think a lot of new players and the experienced boys learned a lot.

“Fiji came out and showed us they can control a game and play well. I think you win more out of these games than if you have a big winning margin. We look back to it but we look on and the big thing is Argentina this weekend.

“We made 11 turnovers in the first half. You can’t play without the ball in your own attack. You need the ball especially when you go into the 22. Just the small handling errors we made. Sometimes it was on and sometimes 50/50 but if we’d kept the ball one or two phases more we’d have put the points and got the advantage on the front foot.

“But you know I think that’s also the way they wanted to play and they used the ball well when they got a turnover. They got points or they put us on the back foot in our 22. So it was another good learning for us.

“Some were on. Some of them you wish you were running a good line to get that ball. You don’t really know what someone is going through when he makes a pass like that. I think some of the boys can throw them and have done back at their provinces. I think it’s making sure we do it in the week running up to the game.”

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