But on Saturday, he will cross swords with his countrymen and in particular Siya Kolisi, Pat Lambie and Elton Jantjies, who, back then, called Stander their skipper.
Having made his debut for his adopted country in the Six Nations earlier this year, Stander is one of three South Africans - the others being Quinn Roux and Richardt Strauss - in the Ireland squad ahead of Saturday’s Test against the Boks at Newlands.
And according to Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby, the SA-born Irishmen are honger to play their countrymen.
He says: “CJ has shown his form over the last three seasons with Munster - he’s been outstanding.
“He’s been a real talisman to them and he’s come into our Six Nations squad and has done particularly well.
“He plays with his heart on his sleeve and he’s a leader. He’ll be emotional on the weekend, along with Quinn and Richardt Strauss.
“[They are] guys that are very passionate about where they were brought up, but hugely passionate about the green jersey. To a man that has come through in the build-up, you get a sense that they are very keen to show the country they were born in what they are missing.”