IRFU tie Stander down

22 December 2017 04:10:40 GMTPlus11

The IRFU have quashed speculation regarding the future of CJ Stander with confirmation the South African-born back-row has inked a new three-year-deal.

Stander, 27, will remain a Munster player for three more years and he says he is fully aware of the 'special country' he now calls home.

In recent weeks Stander's name had been heavily linked with a big-money move to the French Top 14, with a number of clubs said to be interested in his signature.

His Munster clubmate Simon Zebo has already opted out and is set to join Racing 92 at the end of this season. There was better news for Munster and Ireland last weekend when the provinces' captain Peter O'Mahony signed a deal to keep him at Thomond Park until 2021.

Stander made his Ireland debut against Wales in the opening game of the 2016 Six Nations Championships.

He has played every Six Nations game for Joe Schmidt's team since and has already clocked international successes against New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England during his 18-caps for Ireland.

He was selected for the 2017 British & Irish Lions squad and featured in the third Test against the All Blacks as Warren Gatland's tourists secured a drawn series with the world champions.

Stander says he had no desire to leave Munster, or Ireland, having set up a new home for his family and settled into his new life.

"My intention was always to stay with Munster and Ireland throughout this process having settled well in Limerick with my wife and within the Munster family," said Stander.

"My wife and I took a leap of faith and have made a lot of sacrifices to be here but it has all been worthwhile especially given how much of a privilege it is to wear the Munster and Ireland jerseys when given that responsibility.

"Ireland is a special country in which to live and play rugby and I'm fully aware of that."

Ireland are 1.28 to win the 2018 Six Nations title while Munster, following back-to-back wins over Leicester Tigers, are 1213.00 to win the European Champions Cup this season.

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