Easterby backing SA-born trio

Date published: June 7 2016

Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby is backing CJ Stander, Quinn Roux and Richardt Strauss to have big months against the Springboks.

The trio, who were born in South Africa before they moved north and then became Irish qualified, return to their home nation in this series.

And former flanker Easterby believes they will all impress, starting with this weekend’s opening fixture at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

“CJ’s shown with his form over the last three seasons with Munster, he’s been outstanding. He’s been a real talisman for them,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“He’s come into our Six Nations squad and done particularly well.

“He plays with his heart on his sleeve and is a real leader. He’ll be emotional at the weekend along with Quinn and Richardt.

“They are guys that are very passionate about where they were brought up but hugely passionate about wearing the green jersey.

“To a man that has come through, not just in this week since arriving in South Africa but also the build-up.

“You get a sense that they’re very keen to show the country that they were born in what they’re missing.”

Ireland will name their side on Thursday and while the squad has been hit by several injuries in the lead-up to this series, Easterby remains confident in the group he has at his disposal.

“We have more experience in the forward pack than maybe the backline but that challenge, for us to give quality front-foot ball to our backs, is something that we’re fully aware of,” he said.

“It’s a challenge that we know is going to be really difficult to do and countered by strong South Africa forward packs.

“It’s important that we try to give a platform to players that have come in and some of those exciting, young and maybe a little bit more inexperienced backs than we’ve had in the past – but there’s still some quality and experience there to choose from as well.

“So that forward platform is no different, whether you’ve got a very experienced backline or not.

“We know how important the battle with the scrum, the lineout and in particular the maul is going to be.

“Whenever we play South Africa, the lads know they’ve been in a game.

“It can be an arm wrestle at times and it’s important that we stay focused and get the most out of our opportunities when they arrive but also we try to negate the strengths, of which there are many, of the South African eight.”