CJ Stander has admitted that he would prefer to see the roof in the Principality Stadium in Cardiff closed for tomorrow’s pivotal Guinness Six Nations game between Wales and Ireland.
Traditionally, the decision on whether the roof remains open or closed lies with the visiting team and speaking to the media in Carton House yesterday, Ireland head coach, Joe Schmidt, indicated that he would prefer the roof to be open.
However, he hinted that the decision had been taken out of their hands as Wales approached Six Nations officials directly requesting that it be closed due to expected poor weather conditions.
While Schmidt might prefer to see the roof open, his number 8 takes the opposite approach as he enjoys the heightened atmosphere a closed roof contains.
“I find with the roof closed it’s a great atmosphere”, admitted Stander.
“But open, closed, it doesn’t matter too much. It’s still 30 guys going at each other.”
The roof was closed the last time Ireland visited the Principality Stadium and while his side came out on the wrong side of the 22-9 result, the 28-year-old revealed that he very much enjoyed the game.
“The last time we were there the roof was closed and people really brought it. It’s a place where the crowd really gets into it and it’s a great atmosphere and sometimes when people support their own team it feels like they are supporting all of us.
“It’s going to be a great game, it’s one of the games in the championship that we really want to be involved in.
“Everything is on the line for both teams, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
All eyes will be Tadhg Beirne this weekend as the former Scarlets player makes his return to Wales for his Guinness Six Nations debut.
The Munster second-row has little game-time under his belt due to injury but steps in to replace Iain Henderson this weekend.
Stander is backing his provincial teammate to step up and make a difference in the potentially Championship deciding game.
“He’s a great player and someone that works really, really hard during games. He gets turnovers that you really can’t expect anyone to get. He’s good in the lineout and a great athlete as well.
“He got his chance against Australia so he knows what’s expected of him as a player.
“He’s definitely someone who can step in and step up.”