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Erasmus not finished in transfer market as Munster look to bolster squad

The director of rugby is currently shopping around for a few further additions.

RASSIE ERASMUS IS looking to bring an additional second row into Munster’s squad for next season, having lost Donnacha Ryan to Racing 92 and with Dave Foley set to join Pau.

The Munster director of rugby says he would also like to “bolster” his playing squad in the front row and back row, but understands the requirement for new additions to be Irish-qualified.

Rassie Erasmus Erasmus is currently in the market for more players. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Given that the majority of professional players are contracted for next season or have already agreed to moves, it leaves Erasmus trying to do business at “a difficult time of the year.”

The manner of Ryan’s exit from Ireland, having not been offered an extension of his central IRFU contract, means Munster may have a little more leeway around the Irish-qualified criteria when it comes to the second row.

Erasmus’ huge network of contacts in South Africa makes that an obvious place for Munster to search, although they do already have South African lock Jean Kleyn – who will qualify for Ireland after three years of residency – on the books.

Whether Erasmus gets IRFU sign-off on an a non-Irish-qualified second row remains to be seen, but he is keen to finalise a new addition in that area.

Ryan and Foley are both moving to France this summer, while Australian lock Mark Chisholm is also set to leave the province at the end of his contract.

“We have a few gaps we have to fill,” said Erasmus, who was named Guinness Pro12 coach of the season on Sunday. “We’re 95% there, we have to get the balance right at second row.

“There’s guys like Darren O’Shea who are putting their hand up, guys like Dave O’Callaghan can help us out there and Billy [Holland] is there, Jean Kleyn…

“But with Donnacha and Dave Foley moving on, young Sean O’Connor and Fineen [Wycherley] coming through, we probably need a solid signing there, which I’m currently trying to do.

Munster’s Donnacha Ryan Ryan is set for an exit this summer. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“We’d like to bolster a little bit more in the front row and maybe at loose forward, but in saying that we’d have a lot of Irish guys in mind because we only have a certain amount of foreign spots and only a certain amount of money.

“I would say we’re 95% there.”

Without a Champions Cup final to prepare for this week, Erasmus has been putting the additional time to good use in attempting to nail down the final pieces of the jigsaw for next season.

“It is a difficult time of the year, we’ve been doing it the whole year, but I guess if we were playing a European Cup final it would have been even more tough.

“At least we’ve a bit of an admin week this week. I wasn’t supposed to be so much on the field when I came here, but I’m pretty much on the field every day so weeks like this when you don’t play a match but you still train gives you a chance to catch up on those things.”

Erasmus says he definitely won’t be adding to his backroom staff despite those additional demands on his time on the training field since the passing of head coach Anthony Foley last year.

While the Munster boss may be planning ahead for next season, he won’t be taking his eye off the challenge of a home Guinness Pro12 semi-final against the Ospreys at Thomond Park on 20 May either.

The Welsh region have been on a streak of poor form recently, including a comprehensive defeat to the Scarlets last weekend, but Erasmus won’t be buying into perceptions that the Ospreys are major underdogs for the semi-final.

A view of Thomond Park before the game Thomond Park hosts the semi-final against the Ospreys. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“You create your own reality, you know? The reality is not what the neighbours, the fans or the reporters say – the reality is what you create for yourself,” said Erasmus.

“If we were listening to what the ‘reality’ was before we went into Europe or Pro12, we wouldn’t have had a chance. You have to create your own reality and I’m sure Ospreys are doing that.

“They know that with everyone fit and firing, the performances they have delivered this year at some stages were phenomenal, they were on fire.

“We were underdogs going into Toulouse, games against Racing and you don’t listen to what other people are saying.  That’s what makes me nervous, they’ll be tight and they will believe.”

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Murray Kinsella

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