Stander expecting bruising affair as he returns after Irish duty

Stander expecting bruising affair as he returns after Irish duty

MUNSTER captain CJ Stander is expecting an attritional contest in Saturday’s crunch Guinness Pro12 tie against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.

Stander is likely to return to Munster’s starting XV for the first time since January, 24, when the Red Army beat Treviso in their final European Champions Cup game.

“It’s something that drives you the whole week,” Stander said of this weekend’s game. “That emotional side playing that match because guys are playing for spots and guys are trying to prove themselves. It’s one of the big ones.”

“There’s 15 guys going at each other to kill each other, you can say that because it is interpro in the Aviva, you have to pitch up.”

Stander is expecting a bruising encounter in the Aviva Stadium and wants to reverse the defeat that his side suffered at Thomond Park in December.

“They came to Thomond Park and they gave us a hiding. The Sean O’Briens, the Ben Te’os, those boys, they just ran over us, got easy yards and we struggled to get defence into them.

“I remember when we walked in Axel sat us down and he said remember this feeling and he walked out. You don’t really have to say much.

“We lost against a good Leinster side and we know that but going up this weekend it is something that will be in the back of our heads.

Stander came off the bench to score a try in last Friday’s 47-0 win over Zebre and believes there is an added pressure on his shoulders as a result of his promising start in an Irish jersey. You can’t come back and not perform. If you come back, you need to bring something different. I wouldn’t say there is going to be a cross on you but you are playing for Irish rugby now and people are going to try to dominate you and try to into your head and stuff.

Munster’s captain also spoke of his delight that Anthony Foley will be staying with the province for another year.

“When I arrived here it was probably not his decision but I didn’t really play but he always backs players if they do well so he backed me and that is good.

“The last two years for him was probably tough not getting to where we wanted to but if you stick with someone, especially with him, he knows what he wants to do, we know what he wants. I just think it is small stuff we can fix.

“We always said it was small stuff to fix but it’s tough when we don’t fix it. I think next year is Axel’s year. We just need to, as we do, back him. He backs us.

“I’m delighted with him signing another year. It just shows that he wants to be here and that Munster want him here. It’s good.”

Munster currently lie in fourth place in the PRO12 table, one point ahead of Ulster and Glasgow Warriors.

The Scottish side have a game in hand and play against the Italian teams three times but Stander believes that there is still plenty to play for as the season nears its end.

“It’s going to be down to numbers if you get to the last game. You play the game to win stuff, to win trophies and you can’t say you are not looking for a trophy.

“It will come down to numbers and will come down to this match at the weekend because if you slip up this weekend against a great Leinster side you are in trouble,” concluded Stander.