CJ Stander: Munster could have protected Conor Murray more

Ireland will come across plenty of familiar faces from Glasgow in Scotland opener

CJ Stander believes that Munster could have done more to protect scrumhalf Connor Murray from the attention of Glasgow forwards in their European Cup meetings. Murray believed that his standing leg was targeted by the Scottish forwards with Josh Strauss to the fore there.

The Irish international said he had no problem with “being rattled” in matches but was angry that Glasgow seemed to target his standing leg each time. He also alleged that it wasn’t the first time this had happened with the Scottish club.

But the South African born backrow says that Murray can look after himself and that Ireland will not be distracted if Scotland target Murray in a similar manner this weekend in Murrayfield.

“From a Munster side we let him a little bit down that weekend.” said Stander.

“We didn’t look after him as much as we could. We all concentrate on our job and we know what we need to do. We will all make the ball available for him....he’s a big man. He can look after himself but it’s a different game, different team so I think their mind set will be different.

Stander dismissed suggestions that the Irish forwards may need to in some way step in and provide protection for the scrumhalf and prevent Glasgow from disupting.

“Nah, nah. I think he’s a player that looks after himself,” said the flanker. “We just need to stick to getting the ball back from the ruck and make it easier for him to get the ball and let him play his games. If you concentrate on stuff that is not in your control the game is going to get away from you so we won’t concentrate on that at all this week.”

Stander has a strong chance of starting for Ireland’s first match. But he conceded that competition among the backrow is tougher than in any other area, adding that there are eight players competing for three starting positions.

“All the sevens Seanie (O’Brien), Josh (Van Der Flier), Dan (Leavy) and Tommy (O’Donnell), they have an unbelieveable work rate,” he said. “They get to the ruck first get on the ball if it’s on the floor and make massive amounts of tackles.

“Seanie on the other side is a big ball carrier and I’ve played with Tommy a few times over the last few years. He’s an unbelievable work rate and makes 20 odd tackles a game.

“Go to the six and you have me, Peter (O’Mahony), Jack (Conan)...we work hard and Peter is a good lineout option. We all carry hard. We have Jamie (Heaslip) also at eight and Jack and that’s more massive work rates especially Jamie who gets better as he gets older. Old cliché but like wine he gets better with age. It’s a good mix.”

Given Munster have played Glasgow three times this year and that many of those players will be pulling on Scotland shirts, there is likely to be a similarity to the way the two teams perform.

So too may it give Ireland an insight into what is coming at them.

“We need to start the Scotland game almost from anew because a few new faces are here and there in the group so we need to start a new and push,” said Stander.

“This week it is Scotland and as I said we disappointed ourselves last year in the beginning. I think there are a lot of learnings coming from out of that. Scotland is a big team and a physical team. We have our job cut out for us.”

Does familiarity breed contempt, the flanker was asked.

“That’s a big word you are using,” he said before answering.”Yah.”

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