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Van Graan refuses to discuss potential contract extension at Munster

‘When the time is right for contract talks, that will take place in the background,’ said the South African.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JOHANN VAN GRAAN has declined to confirm that he is in talks to extend his Munster contract and says his full focus is on the start of the new season.

The South African, who joined Munster in November 2017, is in the final season of his current deal, having in 2019 extended his contract for a further two years which end next summer.

“I’m not going to speculate over the media about my contract,” said the 41-year old. “Obviously, I’m in the last season of my contract and full focus on the season ahead and we have got a game ahead. I’m really enjoying my time at Munster, really enjoying the club and am just focused on the week ahead.

“I’m not going to speculate any further on that. When the time is right for contract talks, that will take place in the background. My job, as well as the coaches’ and the players’ is to focus on the first game of a really exciting season ahead; a really challenging season and that’s where all my focus is currently.”

Van Graan took over from Rassie Erasmus almost four years ago, joining the province from his role as Springboks forwards coach, with Erasmus going back to South Africa to mould a World Cup-winning squad.

Munster’s quest for silverware has now gone over a decade and Van Graan is hopeful they can bridge that gap this season, with the journey starting this Saturday when they host the Sharks at Thomond Park in the opening round of the United Rugby Championship.

“I’ve been here a few years, an experience that I’ve enjoyed,” added van Graan. “We have a lot of stability here at Munster, something that we haven’t had for a while. We look back at last season only, each season follows onto a new one and we reviewed that.

“We won 80% of our games, we won 10 out of 12 away games and 13 games at home. The disappointing thing was losing to Leinster in that final and it will take some doing to get to a final again. And we lost to Toulouse, the eventual champions, in the Champions Cup.

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“So if we can get to that 80% mark again, which if you look in world sport is a pretty good achievement, I guess the next step for us is to go and win a final. But that’s a long way from our minds. It’s only about round one in the United Rugby Championship and the Champions Cup will follow on in December.

“What you do throughout the season is to prepare you to get into a knockout game and every team starts on zero again and from the United Rugby Championship, the fact that there’s four pools and only the top guys goes through into the Champions Cup, into the play-offs…and the next four teams is whoever’s the best from the next 12… So, a really challenging season ahead and like I said before, our only focus is this weekend and the Sharks.

“We’re starting at home, very unknown for both teams and for everybody involved and we see it as really exciting and really challenging.”

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John Fallon

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