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‘I just feel I've done my part’ – CJ Stander not going back on retirement decision

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CJ Stander retired at the end of the 2020/21 season. Image credit: Sportsfile.

CJ Stander retired at the end of the 2020/21 season. Image credit: Sportsfile.

CJ Stander retired at the end of the 2020/21 season. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Former Munster and Ireland back-row CJ Stander has revealed that he had offers to continue his playing career, but he opted to stand by his decision to retire.

Stander shocked the rugby world last year when he announced his retirement at 31, but the 51-times capped Ireland international says he has no regrets.

Since returning to South Africa, Stander has been working in construction, as his arm couldn't be twisted into furthering his rugby career.

“There were a few teams, a few guys calling me afterwards, and a few clubs around where I live now, Paarl, who asked the question,” Stander said today ahead of the exciting URC run-in.

“I just feel I've done my part and when I hung up my boots, that was it for me. I'm really proud of that decision.

"I do miss the game and I do play a bit of touch with some people on a pitch close to home but that's about it.

“I don't like the contact anymore! When I sit at home and watch the game and have a few pints, I just think, 'Oof.' Like Munster against Toulouse, I was thinking I couldn't imagine having the feeling of just being broken to bits on Sunday and Monday."

Stander, his wife and young daughter have readjusted to life back in South Africa, as he continues to get to grips with retirement from rugby, but they do miss Limerick and Ireland.

"The weather is better,” Stander smiled.

“Adapting is still a process I need to learn. I'm working almost normal hours from 7 until 6 sometimes and the construction service is a 24-hour job. Suddenly, we have to make time to see friends on weekends when we used not to have that.

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"It's great, it's good to be back home and see family. We do miss Ireland a lot. The big thing for me is to keep my wife from crying every second week because she wants to move back.

"But it's been great, the transition was quite easy. I always said that I had a good relationship with my family and that structure has been awesome to fall back on."

Stander still follows Munster from afar and keeps in touch with plenty of his ex-team-mates and coaches.

And he believes Munster are in for a big finish to the URC season, as they target a win against Leinster on Saturday that would guarantee them a home quarter-final at Thomond Park.

“I talk to a few players but mostly some of the coaches,” he added.

“I have a very good relationship with Johann van Graan and I spoke to him quite a bit. Now and then, Graham Rowntree and I spoke to JP Ferreira this morning. A few of the players as well.

"For me, I'm proud. To get to a point where you're playing in a quarter-final and something you should have won is unbelievable. To be second in the URC ahead of this weekend, I'm proud of the boys.

"I say 'we' but I need to say 'them.' When I was still there, we had a goal and a plan. You can see things are coming together. Everyone has to make decisions but for me, they're almost at that place, they need one or two more years together.

"But I know that the coaching staff, with Graham taking over, he is just going to keep on with that attitude. He's obviously going to bring some things in, but the biggest thing is that they've gone back to that Munster core that we all know and that's exciting to see."


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