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'Anthony will definitely be here next season' - Munster CEO Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald confirmed that Mick O’Driscoll and Ian Costello will leave the province.

MUNSTER CEO GARRETT Fitzgerald says Anthony Foley will definitely remain with the province as head coach next season.

Rassie Erasmus was this afternoon confirmed as Munster’s first-ever director of rugby on a three-year contract that begins on 1 July.

Anthony Foley Foley is contracted in to next season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The arrival of the South African has naturally led to questions about Foley’s future at the province, but Fitzgerald insists that the one-year contract extension Foley signed earlier this season will be honoured.

“Anthony will definitely be here next season, he has signed his contract,” said Fitzgerald in Limerick this afternoon. “The model we have looked at, and based our research on, are the ones that have a head coach working with a director of rugby.”

Fitzgerald did confirm that assistant coach Ian Costello will leave Munster this summer to take up a position as head coach with English Championship side Nottingham, while technical advisor Mick O’Driscoll will also depart.

The Munster CEO says no decision has been made on whether attack coach Brian Walsh and scrum coach Jerry Flannery will be retained beyond the end of their current contracts.

“Mick O’Driscoll had informed us early on in this calendar year that he wouldn’t be pursuing coaching, he wanted to concentrate on personal business matters he has himself but he does want to pursue a coaching career long-term at some stage,” said Fitzgerald.

“Ian Costello has been offered a position elsewhere which is great for him and will expand his experience and it is good for him to do it. And I want to thank them and wish them luck.

“As for Jerry and Brian, they are in the same position – we will look at that when we had appointed a director of rugby.”

Rather oddly, Foley spoke to the media in Limerick before an announcement on the hiring of Erasmus was made, appearing extremely disconcerted by the news.

The current head coach will no longer be picking the team or producing the game plans for Munster next season, with Erasmus confirmed as a hands-on, ‘tracksuit’ appointment.

Garrett Fitzgerald Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald [file photo]. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s not upset, I met him outside and he didn’t seem angry,” said Fitzgerald of Foley’s reaction to the news. “He was part of the process when we said we would decide to do this. He’s probably more upset about the way results have gone and the way things on the field have gone.

“We made a conscious decision that we would work separately to fill this position, to leave the coaches concentrate on what they were doing on the field.

“We didn’t interfere in terms of what they were doing with working with Andy Farrell [who came onboard as an advisor briefly this season], it was a separate process. He doesn’t seem upset about it to me, he was quite happy and saw it as a positive movement going forward.”

It is believed that Erasmus is attempting to bring South African defence coach Jacques Nienaber, a close friend and colleague of his, to Munster as part of a new coaching staff in the southern province.

While Fitzgerald said there have not been any further appointments yet, the CEO did state that himself and the province’s Professional Game Board will have the final say on any additional new faces.

Fitzgerald said there has been no decision made on how many coaches Erasmus will have around him next season.

“Ultimately it’s our decision. At the end of the day, we are the employer. But you work with others and see what people propose and what is available. Ultimately it’s our decision.

“In terms of numbers, we haven’t made any decision yet until we had this clarified, until we sit down and talk to him [Erasmus]. Different coaches have different strengths to bring to the table.

“They may have strengths that can cover up for others, they have strengths themselves so the sensible approach, even if it is late in the season, is to do it this way.”

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Murray Kinsella

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