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'When something is definite, I will tell you' - Erasmus says no decision made

Meanwhile, Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald was said to be too busy to discuss the situation.

Erasmus has again denied speculation he is set to leave Munster.
Erasmus has again denied speculation he is set to leave Munster.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

Updated 10.47am

MUNSTER DIRECTOR OF rugby Rassie Erasmus has dismissed as speculation a report by The42 that he could return to South Africa on a four-year deal.

As reported yesterday, assistant coach Jacques Nienaber – who arrived with Erasmus from South Africa for the start of the current season – is a possibility to take over at Munster during the summer should Erasmus leave.

Nienaber, a former Springbok defence coach, is as highly regarded as Erasmus among the Munster players and management.

The possibility of him remaining in Ireland could become part of a deal to allow Erasmus to leave just one year into a three-season term.

Erasmus repeated his stance from last week that nothing had been arranged, while Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald, who was in the building for the official opening of the province’s high performance centre at the University of Limerick, was said to be too busy to meet the media for a short interview which might clear up the matter.

Jacques Nienaber with Rassie Erasmus Is Jacques Nienaber (left) in line to take over? Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Inevitably, Munster fans looking for reassurances will be disappointed, just days after returning to Europe’s top table with their stunning Champions Cup quarter-final win over Toulouse which now sets them up for a tilt at holders Saracens at the Aviva Stadium.

Erasmus said it was vital that his own position did not become an issue as they prepare for that match as well as their drive for glory in the Pro12.

“It’s really speculation and when something is really definite, I will tell you guys,” he responded, when asked if there were any reassurances he could give to Munster fans that he would be there next season.

“South Africa is close to my heart and I talk to them daily.

“There is really constant conversation going on but all the things in the media are speculation. Some things are said that are really not true.

“I’ve also got an obligation not to make me something in the middle of our season… we’re playing so many important games over the next few weeks.

“Even last week, people were asking me if it was a distraction. It’s not something internally that we have talked about because it is not an issue at this stage.”

On the injury front, Erasmus said that he would give Conor Murray every chance to be available for Saturday’s clash with Glasgow Warriors after the Irish scrum-half was a late withdrawal from the Toulouse game.

“Until the captain’s run we really thought he might pull through. He is a really important part of our team, and Duncan (Williams) has clocked up a lot of minutes and contact this season, so we will wait this week.

“It would be great to get Conor out there and we will give him until the last minute to see can he get through this week.”

Saracens v Glasgow Warriors - European Champions Cup - Quarter-Final - Allianz Park Chris Ashton scores Saracens' fifth try on Sunday. Source: Paul Harding/PA Images

Erasmus, after watching Saracens overcome Glasgow Warriors to set up a semi-final clash in the Aviva Stadium in three weeks, said that he was under no illusion about the task which faces his men against the champions.

“Composure, ability to handle the big stage, a winning culture, world-class players, something you would expect from double champions in Europe and the Premiership and we will be going in there against a team that this wouldn’t be something new to them.

“They have great players and great coaches but our biggest challenge will be to try and match their experience in situations like this. You can never just make that up and you must find ways through it.

“Maybe we are adapting quicker than we thought we would to the way we want to play as a group and implementing that but you can’t catch up on six or seven years just like that.

“So I realise they’ll have the edge on us in experience but we’re playing in Ireland and that will even out things,” he added.

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John Fallon

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