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Execution, not entertainment essential as Stander preps for Pumas

‘Supporters go to the game because they love the game. It does not matter if it is a fast or slow game.’

THE LAST TIME Ireland played Argentina, CJ Stander was still dreaming of Test caps to come as he recovered from a topsy-turvy Pro12 win over Cardiff.

CJ Stander and Sam Hobbs Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

So despite being a central component of Ireland’s pack two years on, he may not be the best man to give a heat check of the rivalry or any pain that might linger within this squad two years on from the World Cup quarter-final defeat in Cardiff.

The plus side of that is that Stander can come at Los Pumas with a fresh set of eyes and no baggage of historical conflicts.

Stander will be among the cohort of players who will face Los Pumas in a steady rhythm having – like Devin Toner, Andrew Conway, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy and Robbie Henshaw – played a big part in both of this month’s Tests.

CJ Stander Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

For the number eight, the target for the week ahead is a collective return to form after the mid-series clash with Fiji featured a much-changed team with, understandably, quite a few kinks to be worked out.

“It’s also (about) pushing on from South Africa, where we had a good game, our plan worked well, we controlled the game,” Stander said in Ireland’s Maynooth training base yesterday.

Control is key when tier 1 opposition – albeit a side who only moved back above Fiji in the world rankings over the weekend – returns to the Aviva Stadium. The Pacific island attacking spirit proved infectious on Saturday evening and, combined with players who perhaps were trying too hard to impress, resulted in a slew of first-half errors that gave Fiji a solid platform in the game.

Stander is perfectly happy to dial down the expansive entertainment and gear up for hard yards aplenty.

CJ Stander after the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“If you put yourself out there to go and entertain then you are not going to focus on your team and you can be in a wrong space sometimes. But I think we, as a collective, go out to try and win a game then I know people are going to enjoy it.”

“The team play the way they play and someone coming to the game is going to enjoy it on his own. He is not going to pay for his ticket and be bored by it, so supporters go to the game because they love the game. It does not matter if it is a fast or slow game. They are going to enjoy it.

“I don’t think it is up to the team, but if you play in the Aviva, then people tend to enjoy every game. And when it is a sell-out it is even more special. The enjoyment also comes from the win. And even if it does not, providing the boys perform in a jersey, that is what they want, boys to perform their best when they put on that jersey.”

I like those games, nice and tight matches, with little between the sides on the scoreboard. I like this game, it is physical, if I didn’t love it, I would have played something else.

“I like where everyone is working towards one goal, the collective, you put your head down, you work hard and if you get the result it makes it more enjoyable and if you don’t get it, so long as you work hard, and work for the team, the aches and pains will all be worthwhile.”

 

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