Keith Earls pays tribute to CJ Stander after shock retirement from rugby

“He’s definitely leaving as a Munster man and an Irish man.”

Keith Earls has paid tribute to his Munster and Ireland teammate CJ Stander after the back-rower announced his shock retirement from rugby on Tuesday.

Earls hailed Stander as the “best overseas player” that Munster has ever signed and added that the South African-born Ireland international has been an “unbelievable professional” over his career.

CJ Stander retirement.

On Tuesday, Stander announced that he would walk away from all forms of rugby in the summer.

“All professional sports people are told ‘you will know when the time is right to hang up your boots’. It’s a sentiment one cannot fully comprehend until that day arrives,” the 30-year-old wrote in a Twitter post.

“For me, that time has come, and I hereby publicly announce my retirement from all forms of rugby.

“I am not saddened by my decision. I’ve had a full and utterly enjoyable rugby career, and I can now look back on a journey that offered me rewards, memories and surprises beyond anything I could have scripted for myself.”

Earls on CJ Stander.

Following Stander’s announcement, Earls praised his Munster and Ireland teammate and claimed that he is “right up there” as one of the best foreign players to have arrived in Ireland.

“He’s been an unbelievable professional, he’s been definitely the best overseas player we’ve ever signed at Munster, he’s right up there with the best overseas player that has come into the country,” Earls said.

“He’s been over here 10 years now, and he has given a lot, and a lot of people over the lockdown have sat down and thought about a lot of things and I think when he got home for a while, his daughter growing up around the grandparents was massive for him.

“He found it tough to get in at the start. He came over quite raw. We had Rob Penney coaching at the time, who was trying to play a certain kind of game and CJ, it took him a bit longer to adapt.

“We played Glasgow in Thomond Park in the Rabo at the time, he made an outrageous length of the field break to score a try. I was like ‘Jesus, this fella is the business’.

“The Munster and Irish jersey means a lot to him and he knows how much it means to Munster and Irish people as well.

“He’s come over as South African but he’s definitely leaving as a Munster man and an Irish man.”

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