CJ Stander has hit out at the anonymous keyboard warriors who launched personal attacks on his family via social media following Ireland’s World Cup trouncing at the hand of New Zealand.
The South African, along with others in Joe Schmidt’s squad, were heavily criticised after the tournament in Japan turned sour for a team that went to the finals as the world’s No1 ranked side only to be beaten by the hosts in the pool stages and then suffer elimination at the quarter-finals.
Some of the fallout was caustic, with even Stander’s wife Jean-Marie, the former South African international standard swimmer, branding it as disrespectful.
Now, fresh from a man of the match award in the opening game of the new Andy Farrell era, Stander has himself broached the subject ahead of Ireland’s round two Six Nations showdown versus Wales in Dublin.
“Life changes,” shrugged Stander during a midweek session with Irish media ahead of the Aviva Stadium game against Wayne Pivac’s side.
(Continue reading below…)
Andy Farrell and Johnny Sexton following Ireland’s 19-12 win over Scotland
“Social media got out there and everyone has an opinion. We probably need to deal with it sometimes differently and not let it affect you but sometimes it touches close to home and then it gets tough. I always try to keep those things away, you know, but it is tough. It is tough. It doesn’t matter what you do.
“Suddenly people start attacking your family on social media. For me, that is tough because I believe that if you are tough enough to take on a man’s wife and you can’t do it in front of him then… mmm, there is a line there that you step over.
The IRFU have a number of players in their contract cross-hairs, and a number of players that might no longer be@heagneyl looks at the current central contracts landscape #IREvWAL #SixNations ??https://t.co/7GZwD8kUS5
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 5, 2020
“That might be my South African side coming through, but that raises a hair on my neck. I do a job that is out there and people need to judge me. That is what we do on a Saturday. We are out there to play, to perform at this level.
“People are going to judge you and you are going to have to handle that and that is fair. I can take it. But as soon as you start taking on a man’s family…
Scotland's starting 8 made 133m off 59 runs at the Aviva compared to just 44m off 64 runs in the previous encounter, a ball-carrying threat that caused the overall Irish tackle rate to soar.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 2, 2020
“My wife was trying to hide it but when I got back (from Japan) I saw that it impacted (her) a little bit. But she is a strong woman. She handled it well. She can stand up for herself. She didn’t study law for nothing. She is a tough one. That is why I like her.”
WATCH: The Rugby Pod sets the scene ahead of the second round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now