Rassie Erasmus ‘emotional’ ahead of what may be his last game as Munster boss.
Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has again reiterated that Friday’s Pro 14 clash with the Dragons will most likely be his last game at the helm for Munster.
The South African has eluded to the fact that it makes sense to bring in Johann van Graan during the three-week break which follows this weekend’s action.
Erasmus has garnered massive respect from the Munster faithful during his time at the province. In the way that he was able to steady the side through a tough period when he first arrived, while the manner in which he handled the untimely passing of head coach Anthony Foley was exemplary.
He came into the role with a big reputation, serving as technical adviser for the Springboks during their Rugby World Cup winning campaign, he had previously coached the Cheetahs to their first Currie Cup in nearly forty years in 2005, while he was serving in the General Manager High Performance role with the national side before making the move to Munster.
Erasmus seemed to take the move to Munster in his stride, adapting quickly to the culture and essentially helping to bring the province back to basics, this, combined with the emotional loss of their head coach seemed to rejuvenate the side, who went on to overachieve last season, despite falling short on the big stage.
His decision to bring in Jacques Nienaber, who will depart with his director of rugby, was also a big factor, the South African has been a revelation, as he helped Munster to become one of the stingiest defenses in Europe. Rassie, also ensured that the coaching ticket would keep some of its local influences with Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones flourishing in their roles.
A European Champions Cup semi-final appearance was the highlight of his tenure but reaching the Pro 12 final was a massive achievement in itself.
It is not set in stone that van Graan will take over for the first game after the break against Zebre though, a work permit must be granted before the South African forwards coach can be instated to his new role at Munster.
Erasmus says if it is to be his last game, it will be an emotional occasion for him.
“Definitely, against Racing was probably my last Thomond Park game and the previous game was probably my last away game. Fittingly our other home base is Cork and we’ve had good memories from there.”
“With the three-week break I think it’s fair to understand that that’s the game (Zebre) that Johann will be in charge. I’ll be here for a while but there’s a three-week break, so yeah it’s going to be emotional.”
Although it does not seem ideal to be forced into such a big change at this point in the season, veteran scrum half Duncan Williams has seen his fair share of big departures from the province and he doesn’t think that it will be too much of an upheaval.
“I think things have been handled quite well, it will be a smooth transition, everything that they’ve done since they announced that they’re leaving has handled pretty well so I don’t think there’ll be too much of an issue.”
The Cork man also thanked Erasmus for his contribution to Munster Rugby and spoke positively of his incoming replacement.
“Obviously, Rassie and everything he’s done here has been great and we appreciate everything he’s done. Johann was over last week and I met him briefly, he seems to be a very decent, nice man. From what I’ve read about him, he seems to get a glowing reference and he seems to be personable so we’ll see how we get on.”
While South African native Jean Kleyn isn’t too concerned that it’s a fellow countryman who’s coming in to take over, the second row says all that matters is that he is a quality coach.
“He’s a quality coach, to me it wouldn’t have mattered whether he was a Kiwi, Irish, South African, Scottish, it wouldn’t have mattered as long as he was a quality coach and I think he is going to be a great attribute to the club, very happy with it.”