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CJ keeps on trucking

Ireland number eight set to return as Cronin drops out


CJ Stander poses for a portrait following an Ireland Rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth

CJ Stander poses for a portrait following an Ireland Rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth


CJ Stander poses for a portrait following an Ireland Rugby press conference at Carton House in Maynooth

No one suffers more for the Ireland cause than CJ Stander.

The latest proof came from the fractured eye socket and cheekbone taken out of his first carry against England.

"I thought it was a nose break when it happened," he said.

"I thought it was just normal and kept on playing."

The number eight lasted to the 65th minute, when medical advice trumped personal desire.

"I didn't really feel anything," he said.

"A few times before this game, I would carry and I would get a good tackle in or someone would tackle me and my insides would be in my cheek, so out of 10 this probably felt like a one or a two.

"It just felt like a normal face hit."


The Standers are made of tough stuff and a high threshold for pain has been passed down through the genes.

"I remember when I was six years old my dad actually ran over me with the truck, the pick-up," he recalled.

"That was a Sunday evening and I went to school on a Monday morning.

"That was worse than this."

Excuse us. Back up there to the truck story.

"My dad was reversing and I kept running after him and I missed the step.

"Look, I like those collisions, I like running into someone and getting a good hit.

"It's a personal battle every time you run onto a pitch and when you get a good hit sometimes you go 'that's a good f***ing hit man' and I can't wait for the next one to get someone else back.

"There's a feeling I get from carrying and tackling," he shared

"I think all of us do. It's a physical game and things can happen. We all love that feeling, a bit of tingling in your stomach when you get a hit."

The latest setback seems not so serious now, although there had to be ten days without eating food. This was followed by a period of training down in Munster, working on his speed and his footwork.

Stander is in line to return against France in a game where momentum will be at a premium

"To be on the front foot you need to front foot carry," he said. "If you're not, you need to generate quick ball. We can't look at what happened in the past, we can only concentrate on this weekend.

"It's probably going to be a game when we are going to have to bring some momentum.

"We're going to be playing against a big French team, with powerful players."

There was an explanation from forwards coach Simon Easterby that Sean Cronin's exclusion was a matter of "building depth.

Joey Carbery is unlikely to be chanced against France, leaving Jack Carty or Ross Byrne to back up Jonathan Sexton in a must-win match.

Ireland 6 Nations Squad

Forwards (21): R Best (capt), T Beirne, J Conan, U Dillane, T Furlong, C Healy, I Henderson, R Herring, D Kilcoyne, J McGrath, J Murphy, S O'Brien, P O'Mahony, A Porter, Q Roux, R Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander, J van der Flier;

Backs (16): B Aki, R Byrne, J Carbery, J Carty, A Conway, J Cooney, K Earls, C Farrell, T Farrell, R Kearney, J Larmour, K Marmion, C Murray, G Ringrose, J Sexton, J Stockdale.