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Stander: Being made Munster skipper by Foley was so special

By Cian Tracey

Published 30/11/2016

Huge year: CJ Stander has enjoyed big 2016 for Munster and Ireland
Huge year: CJ Stander has enjoyed big 2016 for Munster and Ireland

When CJ Stander eventually pauses for a moment and reflects on the last year, he will surely wonder if he will face another that will evoke such a contrasting range of emotions.

Despair, sadness, disappointment, regret, pride, satisfaction, joy. Yes, 2016 had it all for the Munster player.

The novelty of collecting the personal accolades hasn't yet worn off as Stander last night added the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year award to his ever-expanding trophy cabinet.

For the last two seasons, the 26-year-old has been named Munster's Player of the Year - he will certainly be a contender for the award again next year - while he has also picked up the IRUPA (Irish Rugby Union Players' Association) gong.

That's not to mention the countless man of the match awards, but amidst all of the personal recognition, the last year has been one of the toughest of Stander's career.

Anthony Foley's untimely death rocked the province and for a man who only arrived in Munster four years ago, Stander felt the heartache as much as anyone who was born and raised there.

It was Foley who made Stander his captain when Peter O'Mahony missed last season through injury and although it was another hugely proud moment for the South African-born flanker, a tough campaign followed.

"That was big. When I got the tap from Axel, I couldn't believe it," Stander recalled.

"It was special. You always think about it and all the boys who've captained the team and you think that's something you want to do one day."

Meanwhile, Australia flanker Dean Mumm is available for Saturday's Twickenham showdown with England after being cleared of a red-card offence during the Wallabies' defeat to Ireland.

Mumm was cited for an alleged 'lifting tackle' on Tadhg Furlong that earned him a yellow card, but a three-man commission decided no further punishment was warranted.

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