Munster Rugby are going into a season of relative uncertainty. Their highly respected and sought after coaching ticket of Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber are set to depart the club in December to take up roles with the Springboks.
At the moment, it is not known what will happen when the duo leave for South Africa. They could have a permanent replacement lined up to begin halfway through the season or they may choose an interim coach option to help the southern province finish the latter part of the campaign.
The worrying thing for Munster supporters is how all this will affect the players and their performances on the pitch. That remains to be seen but looking at the squad on paper, Munster certainly look to be in a stronger position than last season. Chris Farrell, James Hart, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Cloete, Gerbrandt Grobler and their latest signing, Ciaran Parker, have added to the quality and depth in the squad.
Credit has to go to Munster, the IRFU and of course Erasmus for some astute recruitment and Munster’s Director of Rugby highlighted this fact in one of the first interviews the 44-year-old has given since his departure was confirmed.
“We’ve got a stronger squad heading into next season and Jerry [Flannery] and Felix [Jones] are fully on board with what we are trying to do.
“We have planned it very carefully, we are aligning the systems with coaches, players and Garrett [Fitzgerald] so that whenever the departure comes the transition is smooth.”
However, the uncertainty remains and Erasmus has admitted that he would leave “tomorrow” if Munster decided to appoint his replacement immediately.
“The way the whole conversation went with Garrett and David, it was never a case of Jacques and I staying for exactly six or nine months, or whatever. The priority is finding the right replacement and if that means us staying until October, November or December, so be it, it’s an open discussion.
“I will coach and do my very best for as long as I am here, but if they find a replacement coach tomorrow and say I must go tomorrow, then I will go. Depending on appointments we may leave at different times, him before me or vice versa. December at this stage is the ideal goal as we feel it will give everyone enough time to prepare, but that is open for discussion.
Munster face Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Thursday in a pre season friendly before kicking off their PRO14 campaign at home to Treviso at Irish Independent Park in Cork on 1st September.
While you’re here, check out our preview of the Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals with Lynne Cantwell.