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©INPHO/Dan Sheridan Garret Fitzgerald at UL today.
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No room for Kidney as director in Munster structure -- Fitzgerald
The Munster CEO suggested that ‘common sense’ would make Anthony Foley the favourite to replace Rob Penney.

MUNSTER CEO GARRET Fitzgerald today praised the ‘experience’ of forwards coach Anthony Foley with the former number eight a firm favourite to take over as head coach next season.

The southern province were last week left with a position to fill when Rob Penney declined the third year on offer and instead took up a position in Japanese club rugby.

Fitzgerald today confirmed that presenting an improved offer to Penney above the terms agreed in 2012 “wasn’t considered” and the Kiwi coach would take up a longer term deal.

“In the current climate, the money in rugby is in Japan and France,” says Fitzgerald, “I think [Penney] has got an opportunity of a three-year contract in Japan, it takes him closer to home.”

Fitzgerald also moved to rule out any possibility of installing double Heineken Cup-winning former coach Declan Kidney as a director of rugby, saying that the coaching structure at the province would not be changed.

Experience

“Our structure is based around having a head coach and assistant coaches. Whilst Ulster have a director of rugby, we haven’t any intention of changing our structure as it works well for us.”

Munster are working together with the IRFU to appoint Penney’s successor and Fitzgerald says he has ‘a number’ of applications on his desk for the centrally contracted role. However, after Foley made it to the final three considered for the job in 2012 he must be very close again this time around.

“Well I think anyone in any job, if they spend longer doing it, will be more experienced.

“The last time when we had the search for a coach, Anthony was in the final three and did exceptionally well at the time. He’s worked exceptionally well with Tony [McGahan] and with Rob. He’s worked at national level and he’s getting much more experience.

“He’s getting wiser all the time. If you ask me ‘When is a person sufficiently experienced?’ At some stage you have to get the head coach position. Anthony will get the head coach position, be it here or if he has offers elsewhere – that has to be taken into account.

“I think you get more experience by the day and Anthony has certainly proven himself at international, U20 level, A level and now with the senior squad.”

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Pushed again on whether or not Foley was close to getting the job, Fitzgerald said:

“If it’s common sense, well then he must be.”

– Additional reporting by Murray Kinsella.

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