Keith Earls and CJ Stander speaking to the media in Yokohama today
Ireland’s World Cup rugby stars Keith Earls and CJ Stander are relishing the prospect of getting stuck in to their rivals in Japan – but they’re also missing their young children and wives six thousand miles away back home in Limerick.
South African-born CJ and his wife Jean-Marie became the parents of little Everli Stander as recently as August 2 and the dynamic back-row forward admits he is missing both, as Ireland’s opening World Cup game against Scotland looms.
“She’s an angel – she sleeps well during the night,” CJ said at the Sheraton hotel in Yokahama this Wednesday, shortly after the squad were given a big welcome to the hotel by staff, with a harpist plucking out Ireland’s Call, the team’s anthem in Japan.
“I miss them a lot,” said the Castleconnell resident, “but the good thing is I wake up, do my training and then I’ve got all afternoon to talk to them and Skype them. We try to Skype every day so it’s good to see her grow.
“I don’t think she’s going to miss me that much – she’s only missing her milk and her sleep time, so when I get back she’ll be happy enough. My wife will be happier, I think.”
Moyross native Keith, who lives in Castletroy, joked that his wife Edel has been giving out to him for messing up the morning routine of their three daughters, Ella-Maye, Laurie and Emie, due to the eight-hour time difference.
“When she’s trying to get them ready for school, I’m there looking to have the chats,” he said.
Should Ireland make it as far as even the semi-finals, the players will have been away from their families for just under eight weeks.
“It’s very tough,” said Keith. “We’re human - and we’re fathers, sons, brothers. It can be tough being away, but we’re well able to look after ourselves with the craic as well.
“Hopefully we’ll be away for another couple of weeks – it’s kind of bittersweet.”
He added that there are no places in place “as of now” for any of his family members to fly to Japan.
“Me neither,” said CJ, who grew up on a farm in George, South Africa. “Everyone wants to see the baby, so everyone’s going to Ireland.”
The team to face the Scots on Sunday will be named on Friday, with CJ likely to be lining out in the back row.
Keith is recovering well from an injury picked up in a warm-up match against Wales and may not be risked until Ireland’s second game, against Japan next week.
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