Stander, 26, will be one of three South African-born Irishmen alongside hooker Richardt Strauss and uncapped lock Quinn Roux due to touch down with Joe Schmidt’s squad in Cape Town this morning ahead of this Saturday’s first Test with the Springboks at Newlands.
Previous experience of those, including Strauss, who have left their homeland to play for another country through residency or ancestry is that the trio will get special treatment from the players they left behind.
Leinster front rower Strauss, who will be facing his cousin and newly appointed South African skipper Adriaan Strauss, made his debut against the Boks in Dublin in November 2012 and was the subject of constant chatter and big hits.
Yet while Murray accepts it will not be an easy ride he has no fear for any of them, and Stander in particular.
The Cape native who joined Munster from the Bulls in Pretoria three and a half years ago, made his Test debut in this year’s Six Nations and was an ever present at blindside flanker in the absence of the injured Peter O’Mahony, despite being told by coaches in his homeland he was too small to make it as a back row in the Test arena.
Murray believes that will provide further incentive for Stander, the IRUPA Players’ Player of the Year.
“From what I’ve heard it can be a very intimidating crowd and they could pay special attention to someone like CJ or Richardt,”
Murray told the Irish Examiner. “It will be funny because stuff like that washes off CJ’s back pretty easily. So there’s no fear for him, it will be interesting to see what they make of him.
“From underage he was told he was too small, or whatever, so he’ll have a point to prove definitely, and he’ll have a huge hunger going down there.”
Murray, 27, will be visiting South Africa for the first time as Ireland tour there for the first time in a dozen years. The scrum-half is in line to win his 50th cap if selected for all three Tests against the new-look Springboks, the second of which is in Johannesburg on June 18 with the third and final encounter coming in Port Elizabeth on June 25.
“That would be a nice milestone to get,” he said. “There’ll be a time when you step back and really appreciate how many times you will have played for Ireland but look, if it goes well and hopefully it does, that would be a lovely moment. Obviously it would be nice to win the game and win a Test series down there so to get your 50th cap as well would be a nice way to head into the summer.
“I’ve never been there before but I’ve heard a lot about it. It’s quite a hostile environment, the fans create a special atmosphere, so it will be a tough place to go.
“You’ve got to deal with a lot of things like playing at altitude, which will be something new to a lot of us. So there’s a lot of new things ahead of us so we’ll try and be as well prepared as possible to deal with them.
“There’ll be a lot of analysis on the South African team with new players and a new coach, new partnerships, a lot of stuff to get through before we get down there and I’m sure when we get into camp there’ll be a lot of footage on these players we’ll potentialy be playing against. But we’ll be as well prepared as ever.” That applies to individual players as well as the Ireland players involved in last season’s World Cup pre-season enter the 12th calendar month of their 2015-16 campaign, the South African tour reaching its conclusion 47 weeks after they played their first warm up game against Wales in Cardiff last August 8.
“It’s definitely not easy staying fresh.It’s tough, by the end of the tour it will have been an 11-month season but in that time I think we’ve been pretty well looked after. We’ve been rested, given three or four days here and there to freshen up so I fell I’ve been well looked during the year. I’m feeling quite fresh. Not to say you won’t appreciate the holidays when they come round but it’s important you’re in good nick for a tour to South Africa.” “I’ve been staying fit. You’d like to still be playing but the opportunity is there to freshen up and get in the gym and keep your fitness up, get a bit of conditioning done and hopefully be fresh for the tour.”