CJ Stander's system for man of the match awards tells you all you need to know
CJ Stander got another man of the match award on Saturday. He has got over 30 of the accolades since arriving at Munster in 2013.
He is seriously considering converting the garage at his Limerick home and adding in a cabinet to display them all.
At the moment, his current system is harsh but fair. Stander told reporters:
"I move the new ones in, and the old ones go away to the garage for when I have room for them at some stage."
Stander's wife, Jean-Marie, keeps the vases fully stocked with fresh flowers and Stander jokes that while the house looks and smells nice it is costing him a bomb.
The flanker's take on his bevvy of personal accolades, which includes the 2016 Rugby Writers of Ireland best player award, sums up just where his head is at right now. Right. Now.
"One day," he said, "it’ll be good to sit down somewhere and reflect on what I’ve got and what I’ve achieved, but there’s still a lot to work to get up for."
During a week in which his lining out for Ireland was dredged up again, Stander is keeping his mind on doing his damnedest to get Munster to the Champions Cup knock-out stages.
At December's RWI awards, Stander remarked that a piece of his heart is in Cratloe Road, home to Thomond Park. Here is a man that packed up his old life in South Africa and fully committed to life, work and friendship in his adopted country of Ireland.
Stander is not playing for Ireland because he is South African. He is playing because he came to this country and full embraced his new life here.
He is not here for the pay-cheque and the glory. He has bought into everything about the culture he is in and added to it. He is a proud example of people emigrating to this country that want to be themselves yet fit in; to contribute; to be a success for themselves and their family.
When Munster win, he wins. When Munster lose, it hurts like hell.
Ask Peter O'Mahony if he feels he is being unfairly denied the Ireland No.6 jersey by this interloping Stander character. He will exhale, long and drawn out. He will tell you that he has to work harder and play better to get that spot back.
I know. I've asked him [I left out the 'interloper' part].
Over 50 foreign players have arrived in Ireland in the past eight seasons, ever since the IRFU actively decided to take advantage of World Rugby's three-year residency rule. You don't just show up and get a green jersey.
The IRFU may want the rule to remain in place but it is not looking good. The compromise of a five-year residency rule looks the most likely change but it may yet disappear entirely. That would be a shame.
If someone lives, works and truly contributes in their adopted country for three, four, five [etc.] years, who are we to deny them the chance of representing that country?
The rule has been abused somewhat in the last few years - we've had players show up that have not fit the billing and we have had players suggest they're all about Ireland only to leave when a better pay offer emerges - but none of that should take away from Stander.
The union takes a lot of flak but it should be praised for fast-tracking young players into crucial positions [loose-head, tight-head, lock]. Munster went through some rough years when they were giving young players a chance but look at how well Rory and Niall Scannell, Darren Sweetnam and Jack O'Donoghue are doing now.
Like most things in life, moderation is key; finding the right mix.
We don't need to flood the country with CJ Standers but, Jesus, isn't it great to have one CJ Stander to set the example to the rest of us?
Episode 37 of The Hard Yards rugby podcast features Sam Warburton, Garry Ringrose and Rugby World's Paul Williams.
While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Irish legends Shay Given and Clinton Morrison on the couch!
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