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CJ Stander serenaded with Tina Turner classic as he bids farewell to Ireland duty

By PA
Ireland v England – Guinness Six Nations – Aviva Stadium

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Ireland’s triumphant players serenaded the retiring CJ Stander with a Tina Turner classic after he helped dismantle England on his Guinness Six Nations send-off.

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South Africa-born Stander stunned the rugby world on Tuesday by announcing plans to hang up his boots in the summer.

The 30-year-old stylishly capped a fine 51-Test career for his adopted country with Saturday’s rampant 32-18 win over the 2019 World Cup finalists in Dublin and was in tears following the full-time whistle.

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Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan revealed there were jubilant post-match scenes in the changing room, during which Stander received a tub-thumping tribute.

“It was a good buzz in fairness. We put in a good performance that we were putting pressure on ourselves to deliver on all week and all campaign,” said Keenan.

“Everyone’s happy. It was a great way to send CJ off, so we sang a song and it was enjoyable in there.”

Asked about the choice of tune, Keenan replied: “Simply the Best. It was good craic.”

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Ireland ended a four-match losing run against Eddie Jones’ side thanks to tries from Keith Earls and Jack Conan, plus 22 points from captain Johnny Sexton.

Head coach Andy Farrell said after the third consecutive Championship success that Munster back-row Stander would be “a mate forever”.

An emotional Stander told Irish Rugby TV: “Dreams still do come true. I dreamt of playing in the jersey for a long while, I worked hard and everyone made it easy for me. The last few years have been special.

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“Thanks to everyone for the game, for the send-off. It’s been a great week. I am looking forward to supporting this team from the stands with a pint of Guinness in my hand.”

Ireland hooker Rob Herring, who also hails from South Africa, was delighted to give his compatriot positive lasting memories of his final game in an Irish shirt.

“I think there is just complete respect (for him),” said Herring. “Everyone in the squad, they see what he does every week, the hard work he puts in, the dedication he has for the jersey.

“It’s been pretty emotional for a lot of the guys, we’ve played a lot of rugby with him and just delighted we can finish off on a performance like that and he can have that memory for the rest of his life.”

Victory over England secured a top-half finish for Ireland and rounded off a remarkable recent rise for Leinster back Keenan.

The 24-year-old has been an ever-present for his country since making his debut against Italy in October’s Six Nations win over Italy, winning 11 caps.

He has emerged as an outside contender for the upcoming British and Irish Lions series but insisted a call from Warren Gatland is not on his mind as he reflected on a whirlwind spell.

“It’s been a mad couple of months. It’s been enjoyable – I can’t say I saw it coming,” said Keenan.

“I’m loving my rugby at the moment and it’s great to be involved in a special squad and in special games like that.”

Speaking about the Lions, he added: “There’s a lot of work to be done from here until then. It’s the last thing I’m thinking of really.

“We’re straight into a PRO14 final next week – hopefully I’m involved in that – and then it’s into Europe with Leinster.

“It’s a bit of a mad season like that. It just seems like it’s big game to big game to big game.

“You just have to worry about the short-term and the long-term will hopefully look after itself.”

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CJ Stander serenaded with Tina Turner classic as he bids farewell to Ireland duty

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