Desperation fuels Munster's hunger - CJ

rugby22 May 2023 21:10| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
RG Snyman © Getty Images

If there was any doubt on how seriously Munster are taking their chances ahead of this Saturday’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship final against the DHL Stormers, it was put to bed quickly by former Munster legend CJ Stander.

Because after years of heartbreak and playing second fiddle to Leinster and other teams, there is a hunger in the side and a desperation to add a trophy to their cabinet again, and Stander understands this, making the point in plain language on a media round table call on Monday for URC.

“Munster need this. Not just for the team, but in general, for Cork, Limerick, the Munster province in general,” Stander explained as he tried to convey the desperation in the Irish province of getting their dominance of Irish rugby back.


“Just to get that belief back that all that hard work over the last eight or nine years hasn’t been for nothing.

“I don’t miss the game but I do miss these weekends because the craic afterwards, the few beers, and all the hard work in the years of disappointment, you’re going to sit there and hopefully win the final and celebrate with your mates. That’s the part I miss.”

But Stander warned that Munster would still be up against the odds, especially as the Stormers' game plan isn’t often beaten on their home ground.

“It’s still going to be a tough game. Watching the Connacht game, the Stormers know the way they want to play. They play from anywhere and they are very good at it.

“They scored two tries that looked like nothing was on, so Munster need to be ready for that from the start. But to answer your question, no mixed emotions, just immensely proud to be in a final and having a great chance to win it.”


Stander believes that the boost that the return of Conor Murray, Springbok World Cup-winner RG Snyman and Malakai Fekitoa being cleared for the game will be massive for Munster’s belief as they look to repeat their league win over the Stormers in Cape Town.

The Irish side have a 2-0 record against the Stormers in the URC and despite the Cape Town side being defending champions, the return of those players will give Munster belief they can make it three in a row - even in front of a baying crowd of 55 000 for the final.

“When I saw that list of players getting on to the plane, it was good to see, especially guys like Conor Murray, RG and Malakai,” Stander said.

“It brings a boost to the squad. You see the energy that Munster have got in the last few weeks from beating the Stormers in Cape Town and then going to Dublin and beating Leinster.

“It’s going to be a cracking final, I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be a bit wet then Munster will have the upper-hand, but we’ll see.”

Stander, who at 33 could possibly still play and ran out 156 times for Munster in his time, also made 51 test appearances for Ireland and one for the British and Irish Lions.


On the same call former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers - who played both for Munster and the Stormers in his time, believes that Munster are the form team of the competition going into the final.

“They have actually been the form team for me, towards the end of the URC. If you look at the way that they got absolutely blown off the park in Durban in the Heineken Cup game, then they came back to South Africa.

"They beat the Stormers in Cape Town, they drew with the Sharks in Durban and obviously beat Glasgow and Leinster in the quarter and semifinal.

“So, they have been on a run where I think from a mental point of view, they are in a place where they must feel extremely strong and extremely positive.

“And that is worth gold. If you’re going into a final, away from home, but you have proven in the last couple of weeks that you can do it.”


De Villiers said the mental focus would be key for Munster’s chances in the final.

“There is a difference between thinking you can win a game and knowing you can win a game because you have done it before on different territory.

“And I think that is the attitude Munster will have going into this game. The fact that they have all of those players back is great. It’s quite a difficult position for Graham Rowntree to be in because which combinations does he go with? You just look at the 10-12 combination that played last time and how well that worked for them eventually.

“But with Malakai Fekitoa coming in, do you start him? And so many other things as well.

“So, I think Munster have got so much going for them and the fact that they have done it before here in South Africa will give them massive, massive confidence going into this game.”

“All of that just sets us up for a fantastic final.”