‘You might see him back in the Pro16’
Donal Lenihan has questioned whether CJ Stander will stay retired from rugby, as the allure of playing with a South African franchise in the Guinness Pro16 may prove too strong.
Stander announced his retirement from rugby at the end of the season in the build-up to Ireland’s Six Nations match against England, citing family reasons for his decision.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 20, 2021
The South African-born back rower was extremely emotional after the game against England, thanking everyone for the support that he has been given during his career with Munster and Ireland.
However, former Ireland international Lenihan told the RTE Rugby podcast that he believes Stander may be plying his trade for a South African team in the future.
“Chasing ostriches around the farm, I’d say he might get fed up of that after a while and you might see him back in the Pro16 playing for one of the South African franchises,” Lenihan said.
‘Stander was always going to return to South Africa’
While Stander’s early retirement came as a shock to many, Lenihan was not surprised that Stander reevaluated his life in light of the effects of the pandemic.
While the IRFU and Munster had offered to renew Stander’s contract, the former British and Irish Lion questioned whether the back row player was left unimpressed by Irish rugby’s offer.
“I think you have to factor in lockdown. It’s well known that CJ’s wife and kids are back in South Africa. He was back himself for a period of time,” Lenihan explained.
“I respected 100% the honesty and commitment Stander gave to Munster and Ireland. That can never be questioned. I think he felt that that needed to be rewarded in terms of the contract he was offered.
“He was always going to go back to the family farm and business. I get the impression the first offer he got from the IRFU left him very cold.
“We understand that everybody’s contract has been dropped because of covid, because of the financial scenario, but maybe that was just another factor.
“Covid has accelerated a process that was always inevitable. He was always going to return to South Africa.”