Cape Town – When Ireland take on the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday, they could have as many as three South African-born players in their matchday 23.
CJ Stander, who has quickly carved out a reputation for himself as one of Ireland’s fiercest forwards, is the only one of those three guarnteed a start.
Lock Quinn Roux and hooker Richardt Strauss, meanwhile, might have to be content with places on the bench.
Stander, born in George, left the Bulls for Munster in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.
After qualifying for residency in 2015, Stander made his debut against Wales in february and would go on to start all five of Ireland’s matches in the Six Nations.
It was a forgetable tournament for the Irish, who finished third on the table, but Stander emerged as a resounding success.
Now Stander is back on South African soil, and according to assistant coach Simon Easterby, he will have a point to prove.
“CJ has shown his
form over the last three seasons with Munster … he’s been outstanding,” Easterby said.
been a real talisman for them and he’s come into our Six Nations squad and done
“He plays with his heart on his sleeve and he’s a real
“He’ll be emotional on the weekend along with Quinn and Richardt Strauss
… guys that are very passionate about where they were brought up.
“But they are also hugely
passionate about wearing the green jersey and that has come through, not only
this week but also in the build-up.
“You get a sense that they’re very keen to
show the country that they were born in what they’re missing.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00 and both teams are set to be named on Thursday afternoon.