CJ Stander says he still has seven years of rugby in him. Sign him Jake.
White has made several brilliant signings since taking charge of the Bulls a year ago, but getting Stander back to Loftus would be a coup.
Stander, just 31 years-old, still has so much to offer rugby. What a better place for him to do it than at the Bulls, where it all started for him as a professional nine years ago.
White’s Bulls have won Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup and are favourites to contest the Rainbow Cup final. They are well positioned to win the SA conference, despite the one point defeat against the Lions at the weekend.
The Rainbow Cup is on hold for a week and those national players in Jacques Nienaber’s plans for the Tests against Georgia and the British & Irish Lions are attending a Springboks alignment camp in Johannesburg this week.
It means White, like the other coaches, will have an hour or 10 time out, and in those hours White will have noticed Stander’s comments that he feels he could play for another seven or eight years.
‘I think I have got a lot of rugby left in me, for sure. I’d say at least seven years,’ Stander said in an interview on the Late, Late Show.
Bulls captain and Springboks World Cup winning No 8 Duane Vermeulen won’t be available to the Bulls for the majority of the Currie Cup, and who better to step into the Bulls set-up than 5o-Test Ireland veteran Stander.
Stander stunned the rugby world a few months ago when he announced his retirement, with immediate effect after the conclusion of this Irish season.
SA Rugby Magazine reported on Stander’s interview on the Late, Late Show, where he expressed that his decision to retire was fuelled by a want to be back home, and the feeling that in his near-decade in Ireland, much was missed out on in South Africa that was more important than rugby.
Stander spoke about his gratitude for a near decade spent in Ireland and of his love for Ireland, for Munster and for the people of Munster and Ireland. But he also spoke about wanting his grandchildren to grow up knowing their grandparents and their cousins in South Africa.
He cited family as the most important factor in his decision.
But he left a back door open by saying that it didn’t necessarily mean the end of him as a rugby player.
Bring him back Jake to bolster a loose trio that will boast the talents of Marcell Coetzee – who joins the Bulls in the next fortnight – Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha and Nizaam Carr, but is likely to be without Duane Vermeulen. Consider, too, Stander’s previous success at the Bulls, where he first made his mark on rugby before moving over to Munster.
After 150 caps for Munster and 50 tests for Ireland and a British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017, Stander returns to South Africa a matured man, matured rugby player and somebody with a hunger to come home. His impact as a player and mentor would be massive.
So bring him home Jake and bring him back to the Bulls where he will be brutal within what has fast become a very successful setup.
Jake has always been a step ahead in rejuvenating careers and doing the seemingly impossible. Think of Os du Randt, the greatest success story in Springboks World Cup history. Du Randt won a World Cup in 1995, played in another in 1999 and then limped out of rugby, destined for the farm and a lifetime spent with crocked knees.
White saw a different picture, seduced Du Randt with the prospect of another World Cup triumph and the rest is history. White also persuaded Percy Montgomery to return to South Africa and four years later Montgomery had won a World Cup and five years later became Springbok rugby’s first Test Centurion.
In the past year White got Gio Aplon to Pretoria from Japan and has mined gold in getting Vermeulen and Morne Steyn to commit to the Bulls.
Then there is the fairytale story of Springboks winger turned centre Cornal Hendricks.
White, while leaning on veterans, has groomed several under 21s and six of his bench against the Lions were playing Varsity Cup a year ago.
But it is Stander’s Bulls return that would be sensational in every way.
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