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Stander targets Aviva showdown with Leinster as his first game of the season

The number eight has only just returned to pre-season after an extended break.

Stander has only just returned to pre-season training after an extended break.
Stander has only just returned to pre-season training after an extended break.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

CJ STANDER IS targeting the Guinness Pro14 clash against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium as his first game of the new season having just returned to pre-season training with Munster.

The Ireland international was given an extended break by Rassie Erasmus following his involvement with the Lions in New Zealand, and will gradually ease himself back into the set-up over the coming weeks.

Unlike Bath who had Taulupe Faletau in their side for last week’s friendly against Leinster, the Irish provinces will slowly reintegrate their Lions back into the fold with the round six interpro on Saturday 7 October earmarked as a potential return date for the likes of Stander and Conor Murray.

“We have five weeks to get ready,” Stander said. “We worked on our own over the summer but now it’s just to get back working with the team and muscle movement. Making sure we know all the moves and get physically ready.

“I had a good break and in fairness Rassie and the S&C coach gave me an extra week so it was good to see the family again. I went away to Mauritius and it was good to get a good break and refresh the head and come back excited about the season ahead.

“I’m looking forward to that as there’s a lot of excitement in South Africa [about the Pro14] and I can see my family twice a year for free.”

Despite completely switching off from rugby for four weeks after the Lions tour, Stander added that he worked hard to maintain his fitness levels throughout the summer.

“I made that mistake [switching off] when I was 20, I enjoyed the four weeks off and I got back and was struggling,” the number eight continued.

“The first two weeks I usually go to the farm [in South Africa] and work hard then. After that I take off a week completely, refresh the head and start ticking over again. In fairness to my wife she’s a fitness fanatic so she gets me out of bed in the morning to do something. I have to be on the farm at 7am.

“I also went back to my old school again and started to do a bit of coaching and wanted to cut my vacation short because you miss it [rugby]. We do it for fun and we get paid to do it so it’s even more enjoyable.”

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