Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 5°C Saturday 26 September 2020

Futures of coaches Jones and Flannery next on Munster's agenda after Van Graan extension

Johann van Graan yesterday signed a two-year contract extension as head coach.

Van Graan with Jerry Flannery at UL yesterday.
Van Graan with Jerry Flannery at UL yesterday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

JOHANN VAN GRAAN SAYS that securing his backroom team is now his next priority after committing his own future to the province for the next three years.

And with van Graan saying he remains open to introducing new faces to his coaching ticket it’s inevitable that speculation will link former players such as Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara to roles on the Munster management team.

Van Graan yesterday signed a two-year extension to his Munster deal to keep him at the province until the end of the 2022 season, but the futures of assistant coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones remain unclear.

Flannery is Munster’s forwards and scrum coach, while Jones is backline and attack coach, and the duo’s contracts are scheduled to lapse at the end of this season. Defence coach JP Ferreira is already signed up until 2020.

“I think we have worked very well together, Jerry and JP and Felix and I. That will be one of the next steps in the process. As soon as we have got something to announce we will do that,” he said. 

“We’re also looking forward to the future, we need to keep improving and we need to keep evolving. Hopefully, in the next few years we can keep continuity, number one, but also bring in people that can add value.

“I think it’s one of the things of professional sport, you can’t keep in the same spot too long because other teams will pass you. You have just got to keep moving forward.

“There is a lot of possibilities down the line, I think the first important thing for Munster Rugby was to decide who their coach was going to be for the next few years. We’ll look towards the future now.”

With Joey Carbery now ‘highly unlikely’ to feature against Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday week, the head coach has plenty of selection quandaries to mull over.

On a bright note, he says both Jean Kleyn [side] and Peter O’Mahony [shoulder] — who was replaced late on against Cardiff Blues last weekend — are not concerns, while Jack O’Donoghue has recovered from his head injury.

Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony during yesterday's session in Limerick. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Jean is fine. He has had a lot of minutes under his belt over the course of the season. He is one of those guys that gets a lot of shots and gives a lot of shots. Nothing serious just a few bumps and bruises on his side,” Van Graan explained. 

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

“I have done that [taken off players] in a few games when a game is won. It was no disrespect to the opposition, just a fact that there was a few minutes left and someone like Pete who is so important, after he took that knock I just took him off the field. He’ll train this afternoon so he’s fine.”

With two Pro14 games remaining, Munster still trail Glasgow Warriors by three points in the Conference A standings, but they will hope that Leinster can end the Scottish side’s six-game winning streak in the league this week, while Munster could then reclaim top spot with victory away to Benetton.

Van Graan has already confirmed that IRFU player welfare protocols dictate that many of his frontliners will be rested for Friday’s trip to Treviso, but he would not confirm which players are available to him.

However, Conor Murray, CJ Stander, O’Mahony, Kleyn and Dave Kilcoyne could be among those to miss out this weekend as they seek to hit their European semi-final in Coventry in peak condition.

“We will give a lot of that info on Thursday. We will just manage the guys through the week, also see how the guys travelled back, see who is available, who needs to rest.

Some guys I have already sent away, but we will give some more information later in the week.

“It is like building a puzzle, isn’t it? I learned a lot of lessons from last season. If you guys remember just the way the fixtures fell, we needed to go to South Africa after the Toulon game, played the Kings and Cheetahs, flew back, had two days of training and then had to fly to Bordeaux and play against Racing.

“So whilst having to play guys on the one hand, you also have to rest certain guys up, you have protocols within Irish rugby that we want to keep the guys fresh.

“You want to give some game minutes, you respect Treviso a lot. They have been one of ‘the’ teams of the Pro14, but you also want to perform in Europe. You only get one shot at a semi-final, so it is a real balancing act.” 

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

About the author:

Declan Rooney

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel