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Former Ireland number eight CJ Stander believes more is to come for Andy Farrell’s men and says the team will “peak at the perfect time”.
Stander was a stalwart for Ireland, winning 51 caps before his surprise retirement last year despite the probability of him continuing in the national set-up.
The South African-born former loose forward sees Ireland going from strength to strength as they build up for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
“Andy has always had a goal,” said Stander. “Over the last couple of years, the last few months, I can see that getting bigger and stronger every week.
“The exciting thing for me is they are not at their peak yet. I think in previous years, us as a squad, we probably peaked at the wrong stages… in a good way, look we won a Grand Slam and that’s a good thing.
“But if you look at it and want to go to a World Cup, I think they are going to peak at the perfect time.
“I’m very excited about the World Cup for Ireland, I think they are peaking at the right time. Good leaders are still there, guys coming up in the ranks, it’s exciting.”
Stander commended the loose forwards in the squad and believes the key players are playing well, which is crucial for the team’s success.
“Josh van der Flier, unbelievable,” said Stander. “He is playing so well.
“A guy like Caelan Doris, you can’t stop the guy. Guys I worked with every day are coming through.
“The older guys like Johnny [Sexton] and Pete [O’Mahony] are playing unbelievable rugby at their age. They are pushing that standard every day.
“Key players are playing well. I think about a guy like Andrew Conway, James Lowe, Tadhg Furlong, they are playing very, very well and that excites me.”
The former Munster man was also impressed with the talent coming through at the province and is “excited” for the future of Munster.
“John Hodnett was a guy that always worked hard when I was there and he’s a guy that’s unbelievable over the ball and carries hard,” said Stander. “He’s a hard worker, very excited for him.
“Alex Kendellen, I couldn’t believe the stuff at his age he was doing against Toulouse.
“He’s playing very well, again he works hard and he excites me a lot. He’s an all-around good player, a great player. His defence is good, his attack is good, and he gets around the park quite well.
“Gavin Coombes, the guy stepped into my jersey, took that over and nobody remembers me now. What a guy, what a player and I think he’s going to have many caps, all three of them, and not just for Munster. I truly believe they will go on for Ireland as well.
“The back-row in Ireland is a very tough place to play in. There’s always big competition but those three guys, what they’re doing at their age now and the confidence they have, and the enjoyment.
“I can see the enjoyment in their faces when I’m watching them. I don’t know how they feel in the changing room, it will probably be different than when I was there but I’m really excited for them and their future.”
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The article Ireland: CJ Stander says his former team will ‘peak at the perfect time’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.