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Stephen Larkham hoping for new deal to extend his stay with Munster

The Australian coach is currently contracted to the province until the end of the season.

Larkham joined the Munster staff in 2019.
Larkham joined the Munster staff in 2019.
Image: Andy Watts/INPHO

FORMER WORLD CUP winner Stephen Larkham has declared a desire to stay with Munster when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Larkham, who joined Munster as senior coach two years ago, has been linked in recent weeks with a move back to the Brumbies when Dan McKellar leaves them at the end of the current campaign to become forwards coach with Dave Rennie’s Wallaby squad.

Larkham spent a dozen seasons as a player with the Brumbies before turning to coaching, and after filling a couple of assistant roles, he took charge in 2015 before Michael Cheika drafted him into the Australian management for the World Cup on a part-time basis.

Larkham left the Brumbies in 2017 to concentrate on the national squad full-time but he was sacked by Cheika in February 2019. Later that year, after a stint with Rugby Australia, he arrived in Limerick.

Johann van Graan’s contract is also up at the end of this season and he refused to speculate on his future last week, but Larkham – speaking at Munster’s weekly media briefing from their High Performance Centre in Limerick – made it clear that he and the other coaches want to stay on.

“Of course, we all do,” he said. “It’s a great environment here at the moment. We certainly feel like things are building in the right direction, we had a really good year last year and we want that to continue.

“We’ve got a really good cohesion as a coaching group at the moment, we’re really enjoying it and from a playing perspective it’s really our third year together now as a larger group, so yeah, the environment’s great at the moment.”

It’s a further boost to Munster after their excellent start to the season last weekend when Simon Zebo scored a brace of his tries on his return in a 42-17 win over the Sharks, and Larkham has been impressed in his initial hands-on dealing with the province’s all-time top try-scorer.

Larkham said that Zebo’s focus will be on performing for Munster and that he will not get distracted by aiming for an international recall.

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simon-zebo-runs-in-a-try Simon Zebo scores a try for Munster against the Sharks. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“A good start for him, I think. He is doing everything we need him to do for this team at the moment and I think the focus will still be on that.

“There is a long way to go between now and that Test window and he’ll be solely focused on trying to be as connected with these players as possible.”

Larkham was impressed by Zebo’s second try, which was worked from deep to crown a perfect start to the season.

“It was a beautiful passage. It touched just about every set of hands out there, which was really nice. It was good to see. It’s beautiful rugby isn’t it, when the ball is kept alive like that?

“There are challenging factors, we would love to do that every single passage of play. Most teams in this competition have a very good defence.”

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John Fallon

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