Sunday 17 December 2017

Brian O'Driscoll hits out at residency rules but says 'world-class' CJ Stander can be Lion heart

Ireland's CJ Stander has been one of many 'Project Players' in the last few years
Ireland's CJ Stander has been one of many 'Project Players' in the last few years
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Brian O'Driscoll thinks CJ Stander is 'exactly' what the Lions need to take on the All Blacks this summer but admits that he isn't a fan of the current three-year residency rule that allowed the South African to shoot to prominence in a green jersey.

The Munster star has become an integral part of the Irish first XV since making his debut in the 2016 Six Nations, with last Saturday's hat-trick in Rome seeing Stander collect his latest man of the match award.

O'Driscoll says Stander's form won't have gone unnoticed by Warren Gatland as he looks to pick his squad to travel to New Zealand.

"I've been massively impressed with him," O'Driscoll said.

"I'll be brutally honest, I didn't know that he would be the player that he has become. I'm sure the South Africans are absolutely spewing about losing a world-class player. From a Lions perspective, he is absolutely in the mix. He is exactly what you need to take on a big Kiwi pack."

Few players are as popular among supporters as Stander, but O'Driscoll questions whether any player should be allowed to switch countries after just three years - even as he understands why professionals make that decision.

"CJ has made the most of the circumstances that still exist and good luck to him," O'Driscoll said.

"He felt he wasn't going to make it at the grade in South Africa. I personally think three years is too short but I wouldn't knock CJ or Bundee Aki who want to play for a team that isn't the country of their birth or where they grew up because it is an opportunity to play international rugby.

Irish Independent

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