Stander was full of praise for the Irish leader after defeating Scotland. Gary Carr/INPHO
oh Captain my captain

'Those critics are always going to come' - Stander hails captain Best

The Ireland hooker inspired his side to victory against Scotland.

IRELAND’S CJ STANDER hailed team captain Rory Best as an “unbelievable leader” following his impressive performance in their opening World Cup victory over Scotland.

Best was instrumental as Joe Schmidt’s side got their Pool A campaign off to a superb start, with a 27-3 bonus-point win in Yokohama.

The Ulster man, who remained on the pitch for the full 80 minutes, commanded the lineout flawlessly to help Ireland finish the game with 12 from 12.

He also scored a try from a maul in the first half when he got his fingertips on the ball in a fight for possession on the tryline.

Best has faced criticism in the past, but Stander heaped praise on his teammate after their win over Scotland.

“A great leader. A great player,” said Stander.

I’ve learned a lot, those critics are always going to come. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you play, it’s always going to come. I think he always plays well.

“He leads his team hard and always puts his head down and makes sure it’s not about him, it’s about the team. Hats off to him. An unbelievable leader.”

rory-best-scores-their-second-try Best gets his fingertips to the ball to secure a try for Ireland. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Stander added that Best’s work-rate in matches often gets overlooked.

The stuff he does around the pitch is very good. He does the tough work that no one sees. That’s our captain.”

Ireland may have just completed their first assignment of the pool stage in the World Cup, but attention is already shifting towards a possible clash with South Africa in the quarter-finals.

The Springboks are likely to finish as the runners up in Pool B after losing out to New Zealand on Saturday, while Ireland have already taken the first step towards winning Pool A after defeating Scotland.

But Stander insists that potentially coming up against his native country is still too far in the future to consider, and is firmly focused on Ireland’s six-day turnaround, before taking on tournament hosts Japan. 

“I’ve played against them a few times now,” says Stander of Rassie Erasmus’ side.

“It’s just another game. You have to pitch up and, again, you can’t look too far into those games. But if we have to play against them at some stage, we know they’re a formidable side, a good side — a lot of physicality, big men.

I know a lot of them and some of the coaches as well so, look, it’s something that I’m not looking at now.

“For me now, it’s about the next few weeks and the next few games and to make sure I get back into the team.

“They’re [Japan] a team that move the ball and play at a high tempo. They play with width and have great athletes. I think they’ve pitched up a good few times against good teams. We’re looking forward to that game. 

“The big challenge now is just to recover. That six-day turnaround is massive. I haven’t been part of six-day turnarounds a lot so, again, just make sure we recover well and go at them next Saturday.”

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