Belfast Telegraph

Munster on the hunt for a new boss with Erasmus on way out

 

By Cian Tracey

Munster have been left in a race to find replacements for Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber after the South African coaching duo's move to the Springboks was confirmed.

As revealed on June 19, Erasmus triggered the six-month release clause in his contract that will allow him to return home to become the Springboks' new Director of Rugby.

Erasmus and defence coach Nienaber will leave Munster at the end of December, at which time the province will hope to have a successor lined up.

Munster did everything to convince Erasmus to honour his contract but the writing has long been on the wall.

The province offered Nienaber the head coach position but he will also return to South Africa.

Erasmus signed a three-year deal with the Reds last summer but was allowed to opt out of it early because of the clause in the IRFU's contract. Pat Lam did the same in order to leave Connacht for Bristol.

It is understood that Munster do not yet have anyone lined up to take over from Erasmus, but, given that the Super Rugby season finishes next month, they will be hopeful of attracting potential suitors then, should they decide to look for a Southern Hemisphere-based replacement.

Since Erasmus previously walked away from his role as general manager of the Springboks, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) have been constantly hounding him to return.

"While we understand Erasmus' reason to return to his home country for an opportunity as the national Director of Rugby, we are disappointed to see him and Jacques leave," Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald said.

"Working closely with both, I witnessed first-hand the work that they do, and we will always be grateful to Rassie for leading the squad through our most difficult time with the untimely passing of Axel (Anthony Foley).

"Rassie succeeded in getting us back on track with much of the same personnel and when you see how far we have come and what we have gone through as a squad and organisation I am confident we will successfully manage the next stage.

"We'll progress with putting the structures and processes in place in making sure we are a side performing and competing at the highest level."

Meanwhile, South African teams the Cheetahs and Southern Kings could join the Guinness PRO12 as early as September.

The two sides are expected to be cut by the SARU from Super Rugby as the competition is reduced from 18 to 15 teams in the off-season.

And Glasgow and Scotland pair Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg both face up to six months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery.

Hogg saw his British and Irish Lions tour cut short because of a facial injury, suffering a fracture after colliding with team-mate Conor Murray in the victory over Crusaders.

His club revealed he has had surgery on an "underlying shoulder issue", which means he is expected to be on the sidelines for four to six months.

Lock Gray has been given the same prognosis for his spell out after returning home from Scotland's summer tour with a wrist injury.

And there was more bad news for Warriors as it was confirmed that 26-year-old Australian winger Ratu Tagive would miss six to nine months of action after rupturing his Achilles during pre-season training.

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