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Munster's search for a fifth coach still active but not main priority

Johann van Graan has been keen to bring in an additional member of coaching staff.

MUNSTER’S SEARCH FOR a fifth coach to join Johann van Graan’s backroom set-up remains active but is not a priority for the province at present, according to CEO Ian Flanagan.

Head coach van Graan is currently working alongside senior coach Stephen Larkham, forwards coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach JP Ferreira but had indicated that Munster would like to add an additional person to their coaching team.

Flanagan says that is still the case but more pressing matters have been occupying the province recently.

johann-van-graan-and-stephen-larkham Munster head coach Johann van Graan and senior coach Stephen Larkham. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“There is a position which we’ve identified, which is a fifth coach position,” said Flanagan yesterday.

“Essentially there’s no update in that space. I think it is something that is on our radar.

“Equally, in the current environment and circumstances, I think anyone who is out there looking to find coaching positions is finding it a challenging market place simply because all clubs are dealing with a period of financial uncertainty and so on.

“So we’re clear that our focus at the moment because it is an enormous amount of work going on around the return to training and then the return to play, we’ve instituted a whole host of sanitation and protocols, and we’re adhering to the guidelines which have been agreed with the department of health and the IRFU and so on.

“Our main focus at the moment is ensuring our current staff return to training safely and that we take care of their health and safety and that we manage the next two months of return to train safely in advance of those August games and that we navigate our way through those.

“That’s the main priority for us more than anything else at the moment, so I’ve got no update regarding a fifth coach, only that it’s a position that we’ll keep under active review and actively in talks with Johann regularly on it.”

Meanwhile, Flanagan confirmed that Munster are not in favour of summer rugby.

There have been discussions at World Rugby level about shifting the global calendar, potentially ensuring summer rugby in the Northern Hemisphere, but the French and English clubs have vehemently opposed the suggested change.

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Flanagan says Munster would also prefer not to play through the summer, although he insisted the province adapt if required to in the future.

“As Munster we essentially sit at one remove from those conversations which are held on our behalf by the union [the IRFU], but it’s clear that all of these things are proposals,” said Flanagan.

“It’s clear historically that we’re not in favour of summer rugby, that’s a position we’ve held consistently in Irish rugby and one we continue to hold and express in those meetings and in that dialogue.

“The only other thing I’d say in that space is we’re living through a period where we can adapt to anything, so we’re certainly not frightened of the final proposal which is agreed.

“We can adapt. Certainly in Irish rugby we’re not afraid of summer rugby but that is not our first preference.”

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