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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 22 October, 2018
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'I'd like to be coaching here in 20 years' time' - Foley

The Munster head coach wants to remain working at the province alongside incoming director of rugby Johan Erasmus.

Munster coach Anthony Foley.
Munster coach Anthony Foley.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

ANTHONY FOLEY IS adamant that he wants to remain at Munster despite the impending restructure of the province’s coaching setup.

Foley was in a reflective mood as his side’s disappointing Pro12 campaign came to end with an important 31-15 victory against the Scarlets on Saturday.

It’s been a difficult season for Foley; Munster bowed out of the Champions Cup in the pool stages and just scraped into the competition for next season with a sixth-place finish in the Pro12.

On top of that, Foley has had to deal with the reality that he will not be the chief decision-maker at the club next season once Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus begins his role as director of rugby.

That has led to speculation over Foley’s future but the 42-year-old insists that there is nowhere else he would rather be.

“I just want to coach and that’s hopefully what will happen,” Foley explained when asked if he was feeling anxious about his role next season.

“Until I’ve spoken to the man (Erasmus), until I’ve sat down and pressed flesh with him, you can’t really do anything.

I’d like to be coaching here in 20 years’ time. I don’t have a desire to go anywhere else.

“It’s not about me putting words or pressures on others. It’s about me sitting down and having a proper conversation with the man and seeing where we go.

“That’s important, I’m not trying to will myself on him, it’s about us and the team he wants and the management group around him making sure everyone’s on the same page.”

This season may have ultimately been a disappointment by Munster’s standards but Foley was quick to highlight the blooding of so many young players as a major plus looking towards their next campaign.

“There’s a lot of points that we’ve left behind and this is with a young group and that probably tells you what they’re capable of and that they’re a very good side.

“Probably next year or the year after next they will take some stopping.

“For a lot of them they do need some experience around them and from the outside not having BJ Botha, Mark Chisholm, Donnacha Ryan, Pete O’Mahony, Denis Hurley and Felix Jones having to retire early in the season takes away an awful lot of experience out of the side and out of the group.

“But, you know, one fella’s knock or bang gives another fella an opportunity. If Denis hadn’t gone maybe Rory (Scannell) doesn’t get as much game time and hasn’t had as much exposure as others.

“Simon (Zebo) at 15 has taken over from Felix and he’s done a great job at international level now and himself and (Rob) Kearney will be going head to head for the national jersey.

“Billy Holland has been immense during the period. He goes unsung an awful lot but he’s working behind the group as the pack leader and he leads the lineout quite well and he’s someone who’s very level-headed.

“Dave O’Callaghan gets absolutely no mentions but you watch the work-rate out of Dave.

“And if Stephen Archer can nail that scrum, his work-rate, attitude and ability to play the game, in Ireland there isn’t a better tighthead around the pitch.”

CJ Stander after the match CJ Stander has had an excellent season for Munster and Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Munster back-rower CJ Stander is looking forward to a fresh start next season and remains hopeful that the squad will be led by Erasmus and Foley working in tandem.

The Ireland international believes it is vital for Munster to keep Foley in the setup because he gets the best out of his players and he instills pride in the jersey that few others can.

“The two of them can work together at any stage because it comes down to what is good for Munster,” Stander explained.

They are two unbelievable guys and two great coaches and they will know what is needed for this team and its players.

“Axel is the heartbeat of Munster and he will work with anybody if it is good for the Munster jersey.

“He brings out the best in you. He is a direct guy, he knows how to work with his players. He tells you what he needs from you, what he expects from you.

“From a forwards’ perspective, he wants physicality and he wants you to come out and give your all for that Munster jersey, just as he did when he played.

“He has a lot of strengths but his ultimate one is just being that Munster man. He has been driving that. He has been and always will be the heartbeat of Munster.”

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