The Munster and Ireland No 8 will hang up the boots in the summer

CJ Stander announces retirement at end of season

Hard-grafting Ireland and Munster No 8 CJ Stander has stunned fans as he announced on social media that he will retire from rugby at the end of the current season.

Soon to turn 31, Stander took to Twitter to explain how he came to the decision during the toughest of years, amidst a global pandemic.

There is still plenty of rugby to play. Ireland have a Six Nations closer to play against England, and then there is the rest of the Guinness Pro14 season. Stander could also still be involved with the British and Irish Lions this summer, having toured with them in New Zealand in 2017 – Warren Gatland capped him in the drawn final Test against the All Blacks, in Auckland.

Stander said: “All professional sports people are told ‘you will know when the time is right to hang up your boots’. It’s a sentiment one cannot fully comprehend until that day arrives. For me, that time has come.

“During the lockdown, I did a stocktake of what matters most to me in life. My faith, family and this incredible game I have played since I was six years old easily topped the list. However, I came to the realisation that my commitment to rugby has started to take an unfair toll on my family, who both in Limerick and South Africa have made considerable sacrifices for more than 25 years to allow me to live my dream.

CJ Stander announces retirement at end of season

Limerick become the Standers’ home, the star said (Getty Images)

“I am not saddened by my decision. I’ve had a full and utterly enjoyable rugby career, and I can now look back on a journey that offered me rewards, memories and surprises beyond anything I could have scripted for myself. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

In the statement, Stander also made a point of thanking the late Anthony Foley, current Munster head coach Johann van Graan, plus the former and current Ireland head coaches, Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell respectively.

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