18 May, 12:24
The news today that Ronan O'Gara's long and distinguished playing time is over, brings to a close what was by any standards, a remarkable career.
From a family that farms outside George on the Western Cape, Stander was first made aware of Munster's interest after he'd played for the Bulls against the Cheetahs at the start of the Super 15 earlier this year and wasn't really inclined to believe he'd actually end up with a side he considered, "one of the top three clubs in the world."
"My agent contacted me and asked me what did I think of Munster. And I told him I'd watched them [play] in the Heineken Cup, saw them when they won it. But he said, yes but what do you think of them. I said I rate them one of the top three clubs in the world."
"So he said, well they're interested. And you know I thought, yes what are the chances of all the people they'll look at."
Then Shaun Payne flew over to see him and following on from that airport meeting it took Stander all of two weeks to make up his mind.
He spoke to people who had played against Munster and though didn't know BJ Botha personally was in contact with him. "I had an email from him and he told me this is probably the best decision you have ever made. You're going to fit in here. It's a club of great culture and great tradition."
"And you know, the thing I heard that I like the most is that you don't own the jersey. You just borrow it and you have to be your best to play in it. I just love that idea".
And in terms of fitting in? "Ah, I'm a country boy you know. When I landed here and on the drive, when I saw the countryside, the animals in the fields, I felt like I was at home. It's great."
He arrived in UL this morning met the players as they arrived and later was formally introduced, " It was great, really was. I'd met the players but then, as a group, coach Rob introduced me, and there was a big cheer and a round of applause. I'm very happy to be here."