CJ Stander paid tribute to the late Garrett Fitzgerald yesterday, speaking fondly of the former Munster chief executive who played an instrumental part in bringing the back-rower from South Africa to Ireland.
Stander signed for Munster from the Bulls in 2012 and enjoyed his regular interactions with the Corkman who retired last summer after 20 years at the helm and passed away last Friday, aged 65.
“Sean Payne (then team manager) flew over to meet me in Johannesburg and I spoke to him but after that it was all Garrett, not playing wise but contracts and stuff,” Stander said after being named in the Ireland side to face England at Twickenham on Sunday.
“That year-and-a-half I was captain, I sat down with him and Axel (Anthony Foley) a lot.
“In church the other day (at Fitzgerald’s funeral on Monday), it’s a sad place to be when it’s someone’s funeral but I listened to Niall O’Donovan making a speech and he said what Garrett did over the 20 years he was there, back when the lads had to rent pitches and gyms to where we are with the HPC, like, this is the man, he got that all together.
“So it was unbelievable what one man did and he was always down the line. If you saw him, he asked you what he wanted and he told you what he wanted and that was it. I enjoyed sitting down with him, going over contracts, doing stuff like that because I think he enjoyed it as well.
“It was good to say goodbye to him on Monday.”