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Munster prepare themselves to lose Erasmus after strong offer from SA

The Munster director of rugby may be leaving despite having two more years on his contract.

MUNSTER ARE PREPARING themselves for the worst-case scenario after the South African Rugby Union offered Rassie Erasmus a lucrative four-year contract to return home.

Erasmus only arrived in Munster as director of rugby at the the start of this season and has helped turn the province around, guiding them into the semi-finals of the Champions Cup, but he may leave later this year.

Rassie Erasmus Erasmus may be on his way out of Munster. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The South African signed a three-year contract with the province and the IRFU in 2016, but that deal includes the same kind of clause that will allow Pat Lam to leave Connacht for Bristol this summer, despite having previously committed until 2018.

Erasmus must provide Munster with at least six months notice of his intention to move elsewhere, and The42 understands that the province are now preparing themselves to receive that communication.

It’s believed the SARU have made Erasmus a financially strong offer to become their director of rugby, a role which would put him in charge of the fortunes of South African rugby.

Although Allister Coetzee remains head coach of the Springboks for now, his position is precarious and it’s thought that Erasmus would also take control of the national team if Coetzee departs later this year.

As a former Springbok himself, and a passionate South African, such a position would be ideal for Erasmus.

His departure, if confirmed, would be a major blow to Munster at this point in their development, with Erasmus having led a revival in their performances this season.

It’s understood that Munster would consider making a move to promote assistant coach Jacques Nienaber, who Erasmus brought with him from South Africa, to a head coaching position in the event that Erasmus left.

With lock Donnacha Ryan set to join Top 14 side Racing 92 this summer, any confirmation of Erasmus’ departure would only accentuate the disappointment of that loss.

Asked last week about the rumours linking him with a return home to South Africa, Erasmus did little to pour cold water on the speculation, despite initially saying he expected to be at Munster next season.

“I will never go outside my contract and outside the clauses and not honour a contract if there isn’t something stipulated there,” continued Erasmus.

“I have got a standard IRFU contract. Obviously there is some clauses there, the same as Pat Lam had in his contract, but otherwise it’s the standard IRFU contract.

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“I have been talking to them [the SARU] for the last… since I have been here. I have been living there and coaching there the last 16 years and I know the guys really well.

“There has been some formal and informal chats, you know, and as I said last time when they talked about the coaching position, I wasn’t in the mix and I wasn’t in the mix last time.”

– First published 00.45

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