CJ Stander's wife Jean-Marié Stander has called media reaction to Ireland's loss against the All-Blacks "disrespectful".
Jean-Marié criticised media criticism after Ireland's loss against New Zealand on Saturday in the World Rugby Cup in Japan, which saw the team knocked out of the tournament.
Speaking to Independent.ie, she said that the players have made many sacrifices, including her very own husband.
"With CJ, he left when we had a newborn, he wouldn't have given that up to go and play badly," she said.
The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Everli, in August.
"The players gave their all, had to sacrifice everything.
"And to have a beating from the media, it's just sad, they now have to come back and if that was me, I would be dreading coming back to Ireland," she added.
She said that when the Ireland players are branded 'heroes' by the media when they win several matches, but after losing one, are "slated".
"No professional athlete goes over without the intention of wanting to be the best," Jean-Marie added.
"They have been slated downright by the media, it's sad the way they're made out to be heroes, then when they lose one match it's all meant nothing.
"Sometimes you see it within a matter of weeks, they're made out to be heroes when they win and then next month it just goes way beyond just a bad match," she said.
"And they call for their heads, saying this player or that player should be sacked."
Jean-Marié explained that the Ireland players put in tireless work and preparation ahead of the World Cup.
"They gave up half of the year in preparing, they didn't go to Japan to disappoint fans or themselves.
"On top of their own disappointment they have that kind of a response," she added.
Writing on social media earlier this morning, Jean-Marie slammed the media's critiques of Ireland's loss as "kicking someone when they're down".
"As if it isn't gutting enough for the players' and coaches' hard work and sacrifices over 4+ years not to be reflected in their overall performance this year... I find the media reaction from 'our very own' quite disrespectful... talk about kicking someone when they're down," she said.
Jean-Marie, who is also the sister of South African Olympic gold medalist Ryk Neethling, went on to say that the teams' achievements have been overshadowed.
"All the incredible achievements over three years instantly overshadowed by a poor (RWC) season.
"Athletes don't go out trying to underperform, they're human and with that comes failure, I suppose it's too much for some to understand the demands of performing at such high levels consistently," she said.
"They were dealt the cards that they were dealt with and in fairness, to be the best you have to beat the best, but the All-Blacks are a very tough team," she explained.
However, she said that fans have been very supportive and that the issue lies with media commentators as opposed to fan criticism.
"The supporters have been really good and they wouldn't say it, the fans and the players have a mutual respect and there hasn't been any one bad experience.
"It's just the keyboard warriors behind screens and they can't say it to their faces," she added.
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