The dynamic and influential back-rower became the first overseas player to win the prestigious award, in his third season since leaving his native South Africa, where Stander had captained the Springboks’ Under-20 side.
The 25-year-old edged out fellow forwards Billy Holland and last year’s winner Tommy O’Donnell for the award, the trio having been nominated by their fellow players.
“It’s a great honour to receive this award,” Stander said. “I always want to do my best in a red jersey.”
Hooker Duncan Casey received the Young Player of the Year award at the ceremony in the Maryborough House Hotel while Jack O’Donoghue added his name to a list that includes Test caps Tomas O’Leary, Keith Earls, O’Donnell, Conor Murray and James Cronin when he became the latest player to receive the John McCarthy Award for Munster Academy Player of the Year.
Waterford-born back row O’Donoghue, who captained Munster A to victory over Ulster Ravens on Wednesday, was named ahead of Rory Scannell and Darren Sweetnam.
Tralee and Munster flanker Ciara Griffin was the choice of her interprovincial championship-winning team-mates to receive the Munster women’s player of the year award while Andy Brace was named referee of the year at the end of a season in which he took charge of the British & Irish Cup final.
Cork Con stalwart Noel Murphy yesterday added induction into the Munster Hall of Fame to the long list of accolades and honours amassed from a lifetime in rugby on the club, provincial, national and international scene.
The former Munster, Ireland and Lions flanker, who captained province and country and coached all three, has also served as president of his club, province and the IRFU, as well as having served on the International Rugby Board and been a director of ERC.
Reflecting on his involvement in the game, particularly his administrative roles during the transition to professionalism, Murphy said: “There’s been some wonderful players and probably the best player I’ve ever seen play for Ireland, and I’ve been following rugby for 60 years, is Paul O’Connell. If the definition of professional rugby is Paul O’Connell, then it’s been great.”
O’Connell was on hand to present his own club, Young Munster RFC, with the Senior Club of the year award, an accolade which may ease of the pain suffered last weekend at Aviva Stadium when a late score by Lansdowne denied them a place in this season’s All-Ireland Ulster Bank League final.
Clonmel RFC picked up the Junior Club award after winning Division 1 of the Munster Junior League for the first time in the club’s 123-year history as well as the Munster Junior Clubs Cup, while this Sunday they will bid for a Munster Junior Cup final victory.
Bandon Grammar was named School of the year, Clare’s Ennis RFC the youth section and Kerry’s Listowel RFC the mini section of the year.