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New Munster coach will fight to keep O'Mahony amidst English transfer links

Johann Van Graan had to field tough questions about the future of his captain.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan was plunged straight into a tough situation in his opening press commitment in his new job.

The interest from English Premiership clubs in Peter O’Mahony, who is seeking an improved offer to replace his current expiring contact, was reported by the Irish Times this morning and soon took over after the early niceties and welcomes were moved out of the way.

“Some players might leave, but in terms of our vision going forward, we see it as a train ride,” said Van Graan, a man of many little nuggets of wisdom.

“The train will stop at stations, some guys will get off, some guys will get on. But I see it as an opportunity. If we lose one or two guys, there’s a massive opportunity to bring in some younger Irish players and, in accordance with the IRFU, if we need to get in some additions we’ll definitely look at that.”

O’Mahony is clearly a totemic presence in this squad, not only as he holds the captaincy but because he is the closest active player to be a walking personification of Munster rugby values.

Munster’s Peter O’Mahony after the match Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Van Graan took an even tone on the subject and diplomatically looked to the future regardless of which players he would be able to field. However, the 37-year-old rookie head coach also insists he will do whatever is possible from his perspective to keep a hold of the Corkman.

“I haven’t spoken to Pete one on one yet, we chatted away this morning (in a group). He’s been offered a contract extension and some other benefits. I believe it’s in the best interest of Munster and the IRFU to keep him at Munster and Ireland.

“Luckily, (the mooted move away) that’s hopefully not a done deal. He stands for so much more. He’s a Munster man through-and-through and I’m looking forward to that discussion with him.

If there’s I could any way help to keep him at Munster, and within Ireland until the World Cup and hopefully after that, I’ll do everything in my power to do that.”

He added:  “Obviously (for) all the clubs in the world it’s a concern losing players to England and France. Special players win big games and trophies.”

“It’s my first week in the job. There are protocols in place, communication channels in place. I’ve been in contact with Garett Fitzgerald and David Nucifora, spoke with Joe (Schmidt) a lot.  So i’ll just follow the process at this stage.”

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