CJ Stander On How Anthony Foley’s Passing Has Reunited Munster

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The news of Anthony Foley’s passing a few weeks back, sent shockwaves around the rugby world.

At just 42 year’s of age to lose such a prominent figure, who had given the game so much was also going to be hard. For Munster however they had a choice, they could either crumble in pain, or unite in inspiration.

Just as Anthony Foley would have wanted they did the latter and haven’t look back since. His passing has broken hearts but his legacy has bonded them. Anthony Foley was the man to give CJ Stander his big break and you can be damn sure he was looking down last night with a smile as the South African born flanker picked up another award.

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Speaking at the Guinness storehouse after scooping The Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year, the Munster and Ireland star says his loss has united the entire Munster set-up.

“After Axel’s death I think we realised that we’re here now, we disappointed ourselves last year but we have an opportunity to do something.

“If it’s to play for Axel or if it’s playing for yourself or for the management or play for our jersey, that’s back. That’s something that I think we lacked a bit last year but it’s come back.

“It was the worst week and the worst day for everyone when Axel passed away but it’s as if he’s still around us and he’s reunited us as a team.

“Everyone’s together whereas before, if you walked in two years ago and you saw an academy guy you might just wave. Now we’re in the one centre and everyone knows everyone’s name and we’re all in one changing room and it’s a different vibe. It’s great to have.

“So it was one of the toughest weeks but I could see boys turning into men. It was something a lot of people will never experience again in their lifetime and I think the group learned massively out of it.

“It just shows, I think it united the team, that whole week.”

Munster are undefeated since Foley’s untimely death, with tickets to Thomond Park for any home game now like gold dust. Foley’s legacy lives on. Something truly special is in the air at Munster right now and you can be sure the former head coach and captain has a hand in it still.

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