ROB PENNEY WILL move to Japan at the end of the season, with the one-year contract offered by Munster not proving enough to keep him in Ireland beyond the end of his current deal.
The feeling within the province’s set-up is that Anthony Foley is the ideal candidate to succeed the New Zealander as head coach at Munster, while the esteem in which current skills coach Ian Costello is held by the players may be influential in deciding who replaces the departing backs coach Simon Mannix.
However, TheScore.ie understands that neither Foley nor Costello have been offered the soon-to-be vacant positions as yet. Munster CEO Garret Fitzgerald and the province’s key decision makers will consider their options before addressing the issue publicly on Tuesday.
The fact that Foley is now viewed as a promising coach in countries other than Ireland – his leadership of the Wolfhounds, as well as Munster’s improving maul and breakdown work have helped in that regard – means the province may have to act swiftly if he is their first choice, as appears likely.
As Paul O’Connell alluded to at Carton House earlier today, the majority of Munster’s players were surprised by the news of Penney’s departure, with several hearing via the media. The coaching staff had been given some indication that the Kiwi was not overly happy with the deal presented by Munster, but there was also an element of the unknown involved.
The fact that a new contract had not been announced in the aftermath of qualification for the Heineken Cup was a strong indicator to the squad that there had been a stalling in the process. With Penney leaving for an as yet unconfirmed destination in Japan, TheScore.ie understands that Mannix will not be joining him in the new venture.
Toshiba Brave Lupus, five-time champions of the Japanese Top League, have been considering a replacement for the under-fire Kenichi Wada at the end of the season. The Fuchū, Tokyo-based club currently have four Kiwi players in their squad, including Richard Kahui and Cooper Vuna.