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18th Nov 2020

CJ Stander responds to “softies” remark ahead of England battle

Patrick McCarry

CJ Stander

“The biggest thing there was they enjoyed playing for their jersey, and for each other”

Following the announcement of Ireland’s team to play England, earlier today, both CJ Stander and Andy Farrell were asked about the epic performance put in by Argentina, last weekend, that toppled New Zealand.

The Ireland head coach did not give much credence to the query, and chose to focus on his own team’s preparations to take on England. CJ Stander had watched Los Pumas stun the All Blacks, and he had plenty to say:

“It was an unbelievable game to watch. It was one of those ones you remember where you were.

“The biggest thing there was they enjoyed playing for their jersey, for each other and they came out and firstly played their game, didn’t make a lot of mistakes. Their tackle count was up there so that makes a big difference. You can see they really wanted to be in that jersey and they wanted to play for each other. We’ve looked at that game as individuals, we spoke about it in small groups about that victory.

“I don’t want to go back in history but when we played New Zealand [in 2018], I think cohesiveness against a team like that is important.”

It is almost two years to the day when Ireland defeated the All Blacks in Dublin to signal their intent at making a long run at being the world’s predominant side. They flattered to deceive in 2019, however, and that sense of destiny was almost immediately popped by England in February 2019 when they ran amok in Dublin.

Since then, Ireland have played England two further times and have been dished up pretty handily by Eddie Jones’ men. This week, former England winger Ugo Monye spoke about how the World Cup finalists always seek to impose themselves on opponents.

“England play a very confrontational, physical game,” Monye (listen below) told House of Rugby Ireland, “and they’re very good at it… They’ve got a phenomenal pack and their strength-in-depth is a joke.”

CJ Stander will play his 46th Test match for Ireland at Twickenham this weekend (Credit: Sportsfile)

Stander got involvement in Twickenham dust-ups, earlier this year, with Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje and he expects Saturday’s game to have a similar edge.

Asked if head coach Andy Farrell would have any hesitation in his Irish players seeing to Owen, his son, during the game, Stander replied:

“We got caught at the right time, the right place. Those things happen in a game, especially against England, they try to get in the game that way.

“On the pitch this is just another guy, you just want to get into him and do your thing and afterwards there’s actually a few laughs. I think if I was a bit younger and bit insecure, [I’d think] I’m going to be in trouble here.

“Look, we’ve got a job to do and [Andy is] there, he’s our head coach. He backs us and we back him. We go up against England and it’s us against them. He backs us.”

Former Munster coaches Felix Jones and Rassie Erasmus are now both with the Springboks. (Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile)

There was an interesting distraction, amid all the England talk, during Stander’s chat with the press. He was asked about the Rassie Erasmus comments, taken from the Chasing the Sun documentary, of the Irish team being “softies”.

Asked how the comments of the former Munster director of rugby, Stander replied:

“It’s a bit of a challenge, you know, because if that is his view and that’s what he believes then I would like to, not really prove him wrong. But I’d like to show him what we can do is what we’ve done before.

“That is a big statement to make and he put it out there. That’s his prerogative, that’s his thought of us.

“It’s not going to be easy to change his view but lucky we are not playing against them this weekend. We’ll get them at some stage.”

Even though it is England he will be facing, this weekend, a suitable fire has been lit under Stander.



Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts. You can catch up on all our episodes from past seasons and interviews with Conrad Smith, Victor Matfield, Simon Zebo, Sean O’Brien, Drew Mitchell, CJ Stander, Jean De Villiers, Finn Russell, Mike Brown, Brian O’Driscoll, Tana Umaga and much, much more.

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