Rugby

'I Don't Mind Getting Criticism Because I Know What I Stand For'

'I Don't Mind Getting Criticism Because I Know What I Stand For'

How CJ Stander handles criticism of his play on the rugby pitch has changed through the years.

"When I was younger, I probably dealt with it the wrong way," says the Munster and Ireland backrow.

"I felt that I'm taking it personally on top of me. 'I have to be better, do this, this person is saying this'.

"Everyone has an opinion. If you listen to all of them, I don't know where we would be in the world. I've got a process, I've got a good support structure. I talk to them.

"Firstly, before I go to them, I categorise it as a small problem or a big problem. If it's a big one, then I just deal with it head-on. I try to control in that situation what I can. If I can, great. If I can't, I make sure I talk to the people that I can talk to.

"If it's a small problem, in the last few years, I just laugh it off. Humour, for me, is a way for me to get my head away from distractions like that.

"You can't bog yourself down with those negative thoughts."

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Pictured is, Ireland and Munster Rugby player and Tackle Your Feelings ambassador, CJ Stander, who is encouraging people to rally around their loved ones and support one another, especially as we must now stay at home once again, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Following Ireland's exit from last year's World Cup, Stander's wife Jean-Marié castigated the Irish media for its reaction to the team's defeat to the All Blacks. Stander feels the backlash towards her on social media went too far.

"After the World Cup... I don't mind getting criticism as player or person because I know what I stand for, what I can do and what I have done," he says.

"It's quite easy for me to deal with criticism that way.

"As soon as you attack a man's family... The attack on my wife on social media was quite tough for her. I don't think that's fair. She's not the person going out there and playing every game.

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"I wish she could because she's got a massive heart and is someone who would probably do a better job than me. You can't attack someone's family through them. It's just a vicious circle and she's trying to support me as a wife and friend.

"She can't get stuff like that thrown her way. I don't think it's fair. That's just my opinion, another opinion that probably doesn't count."

The 30-year-old was recently voted Munster's Player of the Year and was nominated for Six Nations Player of the Tournament.

"I'm enjoying my game again, enjoying my rugby," he says.

"I realised in lockdown that it's a privilege to train every day and play rugby. It's a privilege being in a Munster side, a privilege being in an Irish side.

"You go through your career and I probably went to a stage where I was like, 'These things are going to come my way.' They don't, you need to work for it. You need to enjoy it when they come your way too."

Today, CJ was on hand to announce the Tackle Your Feelings Pro app add-on as part of the #ImTakingControl campaign which encourages people to ‘Take Control’ of their mental wellbeing using principles from both sport and positive psychology.

Tackle Your Feelings is an all-island mental wellbeing campaign, launched by Rugby Players Ireland and Zurich in 2016 and is funded by the Z Zurich Foundation. The TYF App, which is free to download, features sections on Relationships, Confidence, Happiness/Sadness, Sleep, Self-Care, Resilience, Anger, Relaxation, Optimism & Self-Awareness. For more information on Tackle Your Feelings follow the Instagram account @tyf or visit the website www.tackleyourfeelings.com which will share motivational stories along with positive mental wellbeing tips and exercises.

Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

See Also: CJ Stander's First Night Out In Cork Was A Memorable One

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PJ Browne
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