‘Doubt Me Now’ – CJ Stander Silences His Critics Once Again With Phenomenal Performance

CJ Stand[ard].

14 carries.
27 metres made.
4 defenders beaten.
18 tackles.
2 colossal turnovers.
1 man of the match award.

Before Ireland’s Six Nations opener with Scotland yesterday much of the talk surrounded debutant Caelan Doris. The Leinster prodigy has been phenomenal this season with many feeling he should start at eight over CJ Stander who has had a mixed season with Munster since returning from the World Cup.

In the end, he did replace Stander at number eight but new boss Andy Farrell felt like he couldn’t remove the Munsterman from his starting XV entirely so switched him to blindside flanker and dropped Peter O’Mahony instead.

But just 5 mins into yesterday’s win over the Scots, Doris’ game was unfortunately cut short following a nasty clash of heads. O’Mahony was on and Stander was back at eight. Ready to prove a point.

And as the old saying goes – the stats don’t lie. Ireland were far from their best yesterday but Stander was. A massive turnover just before half-time ensured Ireland kept their four-point lead at the break. An even bigger on in the final moments ensured Ireland held onto the win.

14 massive carries with four defenders beaten. And another huge game in defence with 18 tackles.

Stander is a big-game player. It’s as simple as that. Yes, change is needed under Andy Farrell if Ireland are to improve during this World Cup cycle but a solid foundation is needed in order for this to happen.

Sure we want to see the backs play some expansive rugby, we want them to look for the pass and attempt the offload where possible. But those backs ain’t going nowhere without a decent platform and some front-foot ball. And no one gets them there better than CJ Stander.

People will complain that he doesn’t make many metres despite the ridiculous amount of carries he makes every game. What these people don’t seem to understand is Stander is sucking in two to three defenders every time, allowing Ireland to play in those tight channels and open up some space out wide.

CJ Stander is still the gold standard. Whether you like it or not.