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'A big loss to the Springboks but a massive gain for Munster': Van Graan arrival date confirmed

The South Africa assistant coach will take the reins at Munster from 20 November.

South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee speaking in Dublin this morning.
South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee speaking in Dublin this morning.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

SOUTH AFRICA HEAD coach Allister Coetzee admits the departure of Johann van Graan from his coaching ticket is a ‘big loss’ for the Springboks as he prepares to take the reins at Munster.

As Coetzee was holding his first media briefing of South Africa’s end-of-season tour in Dublin this morning, Munster had confirmed the arrival date van Graan, their incoming head coach, for the end of this month.

Van Graan will remain part of the Springbok coaching team for Saturday’s clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium and the Test against France in Paris the week after, before assuming his new position at Thomond Park from 20 November.

His arrival at the southern province coincides with the recommencement of the Pro14, with his first game in charge set to be the round nine fixture against Zebre on 26 November.

Speaking from the team hotel, Coetzee admitted van Graan’s departure from his assistant coach position after five years in the Springbok set-up is a significant loss.

“He has been massive and besides his tactical info and coaching ability he is a good person and a good human being,” the head coach said.

“He has been doing a good job for the Springboks over the last few years and it will be a big loss to the Springboks but a massive gain for Munster. He has been working well in our coaching structures.

With this being van Graan’s first head coach job, Coetzee conceded that it’s a big step-up from being second in command — but pointed to the 37-year-old’s work ethic and tactical knowledge as reasons why he’s well-equipped to succeed Rassie Erasmus.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2015 - Semi Final - South Africa v New Zealand - Twickenham Stadium Johann van Graan will be with the Springboks for the Tests against Ireland and France. Source: Mike Egerton

“Assistant is a starting point to being a coach and once you have been a good one that makes it easier to become a good head coach as well,” Coetzee continued.

“He has been an outstanding assistant coach. His knowledge of the game is second to none. He is a hard worker and that’s what you need from an assistant coach and tactically very astute.”

On Erasmus and his impending arrival as South Africa’s director of rugby — effectively Coetzee’s boss, the head coach said the pair won’t meet in Ireland this week.

“Probably next year,” he said, when asked would Erasmus be involved.

“At this point in time the focus of the management team and coaching staff is on the Tests. The other stuff will be looked at next year definitely.”

For now, the focus is on Saturday’s opening Test of the tour at Lansdowne Road.

The Springboks squad arrived in Dublin yesterday lunchtime and after a recovery session on Sunday, will take to the training paddock for the first time at Donnybrook this afternoon.

Coetzee issued a clean bill of health ahead of the weekend with captain Eben Etzebeth flanker Uzair Casseim both available for selection after recent injuries.

Etzebeth has recovered from an ankle problem and took part in a light session before the squad’s departure on Saturday.

“There are no concerns whatsoever about his inclusion and in leading the team,” Coetzee added.

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