In an interview with South African website Sport24, CJ Stander has spoken about the effect which moving to Ireland has had on his life and his career.
Stander left South Africa for Munster in 2012 feeling that his rugby career required a fresh start. He says that when he first came to Ireland, he was just a boy but he has since matured into a man. His development was made easier with the help of Munster and the people of his new home, Limerick.
My roots are in South Africa and I am proud to be a South African.
However, on the flipside, Irish rugby and the people of Ireland have pulled me in and have made me feel part of their culture and community.
Ireland afforded me the opportunity to play international rugby and I want to continue to give back and show the tremendous appreciation that I have for them. They made it an easy transition for us from day one even though I only came over with a few Rands and could hardly speak English at the time.
Life in Limerick has been good and the people have welcomed us with open arms. I’m always going to be South African, but I’m going to try to be the best Irishman I can be. I feel proud to play for Munster and Ireland, and the heritage at club and national level is unbelievable here. I left South Africa as a boy and have become a man in Ireland.
The 27-year-old believes that the work ethic born on his parents' farm in South Africa is the foundation for the player he has become.
Since moving to Ireland, his rugby skills have been refined and he has turned into what he calls a 'true professional'.
During my time in Ireland, I have polished and refined my skillset and have made sure to smooth the rough edges within my game. I have turned myself into a true professional and ensure that the way that I train is the way I go out on to the pitch on match-day.
Sometimes players set big expectations for themselves and think that they are going to reach their goals without training hard and putting in the work. I have learned that your training has to be world-class all the time, because if it isn’t you will fall down.
You need to work for the team and the jersey and you cannot just rely on pitching up, making a good carry and scoring a try. You can’t just have a good 20 minutes - you need to be constantly on the ball, at the breakdown and at the tackle area.
I learned there is no substitute for work ethic when I was a youngster on our farm in South Africa and I’ve carried that with me ever since. I have seen that hard work pays off and I will keep on working hard for the teams I represent.
Stander is one of 11 Irish capped players in the Lions squad for this summer's tour of New Zealand. The backrow believes that if the unlikely happens and Warren Gatland's side win the series, we could see tears.
Meanwhile, claiming the series against the All Blacks would mean the world to me and my British and Irish Lions team-mates, and you will probably witness grown men crying if we win.
Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile