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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 22 November, 2017
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'I'm going to miss it a lot': Van Graan arrival draws exit closer for Erasmus

The South African cut an emotional figure when asked about what he would miss about Munster.

Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

THE SMILING FACE of Rassie Erasmus was hit with an emotional wrench when the issue of his exit was brought up after Munster’s Champions Cup win over Racing.

After watching a low-scoring, high-intensity victory for the southern province in a Thomond Park packed tight in the midst of Storm Brian, Erasmus was asked about the prospect of being absent for the climax of the pool stage he has begun with a six-point return.

“It’s going to be very tough. Today was also tough, I’m going to miss it a lot,” Erasmus said with a nod. When asked simply what he would miss, he seemed to choke down a lump in his throat as he gravely added:

“The players, the fans, the atmosphere. I’m going to miss a lot of it.”

After a week where incoming head coach Johann van Graan was treated to everything a big European week involves for Munster – from shadowing Erasmus to sitting among those singing the Fields of Athenry in a weather beaten Thomond – it’s possible that Erasmus has now experienced his last big European night in Limerick.

If Van Graan’s work permit comes through in mid November as expected, he may well be in sole charge when joint pool 4 leaders Leicester Tigers come to Limerick in December.

“When he comes over here, apart from this week, we want to make sure that he’s 100% comfortable, the players are comfortable and the club is comfortable. So we’re still not 100% sure, I might be still involved for those games, but I think the time is coming closer now.”

Rassie Erasmus Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

With the November Test window on the way, there are not many games left before the Champions Cup resumes. After this Friday’s inter-pro in Galway, Munster have are home to the Dragons before a three-week break and an away clash with Zebre. Not the worst matches to let a new coach slide his feet under the table, but far from the ideal farewell that would befit Erasmus’ steadying presence on the province in the most turbulent of years.

Whenever the handover comes though, last week in Limerick has gone a long way to giving Van Graan an understanding of the job ahead.

 

“We all saw it was a weird game, but the crowd was great. When they started singing and to see the boys gutsing it out, that’s what Munster is – we have to play with this, and we have to be tight.

“If he saw that today, that’s what he’s going to get when he comes here – a bunch of guys who really play for the club, supporters who support the team through good and bad times.

“Maybe the weather might have frightened or put him off a little, but the whole experience would have been nice for him.”

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