Munster close to finalising deal to keep Taute until end of season

The popular South African looks like he will be staying put in Limerick.

Murray Kinsella reports from Thomond Park

RASSIE ERASMUS HAS confirmed that Munster are finalising a deal to keep Jaco Taute with the province until the end of the season.

Speaking after last night’s win over Leinster, the Munster director of rugby indicated that the province are close to securing an extension of Taute’s deal, but insisted that the province still needed “to cross the Ts and dot the Is before we can officially say he’s with us.”

Jaco Taute celebrates scoring a try Taute is a fan favourite at Munster. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Erasmus and Munster have been working closely with IRFU performance director David Nucifora in recent weeks after Taute’s sensational run of form has seen him rapidly become an important player for the southern province.

“It’s not signed off but obviously as David mentioned last week we’re discussing it with both David and Western Province, or the Stormers, and on our side at Munster,” said Erasmus last night.

“We’ve officially requested that and everybody knows we’ve lost Alex Wootton long-term, we’ve lost Bill Johnston long-term and now Sweets [Darren Sweetnam] tonight is a little bit of a doubt so, you know, Jaco played more than 90 games at fullback at first-class level and he’s covering places for us there.

“It’s not signed and sealed but we have to make sure, how do you say it, we cross the Ts and dot the Is before we can officially say he’s with us but, yes, we’re discussing that with David.”

Taute’s current loan deal at Munster is set to expire on the 31st of December, following the New Year’s Eve clash with Connacht, but Erasmus confirmed they are hoping to extend until the end of the current campaign.

“I think the main things about Jaco on the field are physicality and work-rate and probably sometimes just guts-ing it out,” said Erasmus when asked about Taute’s qualities.

“He’s maybe not too flashy at times but that’s the part he brings to the game, competitiveness, but I think, too, look, the team’s young. Rory Scannell is young. Tyler Bleyendaal has had the last two seasons where he’s seldom been on the field. Darren Sweetnam is a young guy.

“So those kind of things, I think he brings almost calmness and mentoring skills off the field which is great for the development of all the players, not just Irish players.

Jaco Taute and Dave Kilcoyne after the game Taute after last night's win over Leinster. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“And I think he’s just totally bought into being a Munster player. He’s proud to be a Munster player.”

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Francis Saili’s return from injury last night against Leinster – he replaced Taute in the second half – provides Munster with another international option in the 13 shirt, which perhaps explains Erasmus pointing out Taute’s history at fullback.

“It’s great,” said Erasmus of Saili’s return. “It’s tough sometime at squad level when you think Francis is two weeks away, sometime you feel, let’s push him in a week early, but then if you look at the bigger picture, we’re trying to build Munster as a squad that’s got depth over years, and it probably was the right thing to only play him tonight.

“He came through it, he doesn’t look full of injury, so it will be another spring into the step and we must now just get him gradually match-fit and confident.”

Taute – the incumbent at 13 – has proven hugely popular with Munster’s supporters and also with his new team-mates, who have been impressed with his swift adaptation to their culture.

“First and foremost, what he’s doing on the pitch is obviously brilliant,” said hooker Niall Scannell. “With Frankie [Saili] back tonight it’s brilliant, it’s good to be getting that depth there. I suppose Rory is doing ok as well – I have to get that in there!

“But he’s a brilliant team-mate, he’s a team man, he’s bought into everything Munster and I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but in terms of being a team-mate he’s top class.

“He’s a top-class professional, an unbelievable athlete, as you can see, and he’s just delivering on the pitch. That’s all you can ask of anyone in your dressing room.”

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