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'I'm CJ Stander and I'm the captain now': Munster back-row buoyed by new experience

Saturday put Stander on Ireland’s bench for the first time in his 17 Tests, and he captained the side as they forced a win over Fiji.

CJ STANDER WILL be back in a familiar role as a starting back row this weekend after getting his first taste of bench duty in Ireland colours.

The Munster stalwart had to get accustomed to limiting his impact to a replacement’s role while on tour with the Lions as he was twice named on the tourists’ bench in the drawn series against New Zealand.

British and Irish Lions CJ Stander Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

For Ireland though, Saturday evening was the first time he was not asked to start in Joe Schmidt’s back row after 16 full caps.

“I enjoyed it, it takes a bit longer for you to get into the game,” Stander said at Carton House today as the build-up to the final November Test clash against Argentina took hold.

“You can suss out the game and see what’s the flow and what you need to do when you get on.

“So look I will jump in any jersey where it’s needed. If it’s off the bench then If I need to make an impact then that’s my job.”

Another part of Stander’s job in the tighter-than-expected battle with Fiji was to take captaincy duties as he came on in place of Rhys Ruddock. With that in mind, he made referee Paul Williams an early stop-off point after entering the field of play.

“When you get a call to go on it’s a massive honour, I just said to him: ‘I’m CJ Stander and I’m the captain now.’ And I said about the breakdown what I felt was going wrong.

CJ Stander at the end of the game Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“You just make yourself known so he knows who you are and if he looks for you he knows where to find you.”

Stander will work to ensure that breakdown impact he brought against Fiji will be carried over when Los Pumas visit the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening. Groundwork, handling and pass security will be hot topics through the early part of this week.

“We just need to look after the ball and make sure we get through a few more phases and control the game the way we want to play it. Just look after the breakdown, a few times they got in there and slowed down our attack to put us on the back foot.

I think we made 11 turnovers in the first half. You can’t play without the ball in your own attack… sometimes it was on and sometimes 50/50 but if we’d kept the ball one or two phases more we’d have put the points and got the advantage on the front foot.

“But you know I think that’s also the way they wanted to play and they used the ball well when they got a turnover. They got points or they put us on the back foot in our 22. So it was another good learning for us.

“(Argentina ) are a physical side. Their forwards especially run hard. They play well, there’s a lot of continuity in the team, they know each other very well and they’re not afraid to attack from anywhere and even go up in an aerial battle.

“Set-piece is going to be important because when they snap and get a turnover they’re going to punish you.”

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