Cape Town - Ireland’s South African-born flank, CJ Stander, said beating the All Blacks in Chicago last year was his finest rugby moment.
Stander was a try-scorer when Ireland stunned the world champions 40-29 in Chicago, USA last year to stop the All Blacks from claiming a record 19 straight wins for major Test playing nations.
The 27-year-old, who left South Africa for Munster in 2012, now boasts 15 Test caps for his adopted country and has been included in the British and Irish Lions’ forthcoming tour to New Zealand.
In an exclusive interview with Sport24, Stander described the win over the world No 1-ranked side:
“Defeating New Zealand in Chicago last year stands out as my best rugby moment so far. It was the first time we had beaten the All Blacks in 111 years, and stopping them from setting a new world record in terms of consecutive Test victories was surreal,” Stander said.
“It was a special day at Soldier Field and I still get goosebumps when I talk about it. We were inspired by the Chicago Cubs, who had just won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. We put in a lot of work ahead of the Test and it was one of those days were everything came together perfectly on the pitch. We beat the best team in the world and the enjoyment level for us as players and Ireland supporters was immense.”
In term of his future rugby goals, Stander commented: “Lifting the Rugby World Cup trophy is something I would love to do with Ireland. I would also like to win any senior competition with Munster. We have worked hard this season and are almost there. We just need that little bit extra to win the PRO12 or Champions Cup. (Munster will have the opportunity to get their hands on silverware when they tackle Scarlets in the PRO12 final on Saturday). Meanwhile, claiming the series against the All Blacks would mean the world to me and my British and Irish Lions team-mates, and you will probably witness grown men crying if we win.”