Twickenham will be biggest game of my career says Ireland's Stander

South Africa-born back-rower CJ Stander has admitted NatWest 6 Nations champions Ireland's Grand Slam bid against England is now the biggest game of his career.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

The Munster loose forward insisted he appreciates the significance of helping Ireland chase just a third Six Nations clean sweep, especially on St Patrick’s Day and at Twickenham.

Ireland claimed a record 11th consecutive win with Saturday’s 28-8 victory over Scotland, and that proved enough to swipe the title a week early as England lost 22-16 to France in Paris.

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Former South Africa Under-20s star Stander swapped Super Rugby’s Blue Bulls for Munster in 2012 after Springboks coaches told him he was too small to be a Test-match flanker.

Six years on he has a British and Irish Lions cap, helped Ireland claim a maiden win over New Zealand – and now has the chance to drive Joe Schmidt’s men to a first Grand Slam since 2009. Asked if the Twickenham showdown is now the biggest game of his career, Stander replied: “Yes, for sure; there’s an opportunity to create something for ourselves as a group.

“Some of us, it’s their first Six Nations, some of us have been here for a few years.

“Preparation wise, put the head down, make sure you train well and get into the team for Saturday.

“It’s a great opportunity. You set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year and on a personal level you strive to be part of that.”

The latest win came as Jacob Stockdale became the first Irishman to claim six tries in a single Five or Six Nations competition with a brace against the Scots. Conor Murray and Sean Cronin sealed Ireland’s third bonus-point win in their four clashes to date.

Scotland captain John Barclay admitted his side botched a hatful of scoring chances, which proved definitive on the day.

“I don’t want to say you get what you deserve in rugby; the scoreline didn’t reflect the chances in the game,” said Barclay. “But they took all their chances whereas we probably had four two-on-one chances and we took none of them. That’s the difference today.”