Reasons to be optimistic
The Springboks aren’t happy:
That South Africa’s under-pressure head coach Allister Coetzee went into meltdown at the very thought of Van Graan leaving his backroom team is a telling insight into how much the Boks are going to miss Munster’s new boss. Also encouraging is that Rassie Erasmus was hoping to work with his replacement when he took up his post as South Africa’s director of rugby.
The low profile:
Football supporters of a certain age will remember the headline ‘Arsene Who?’ when Arsenal unveiled a little-known Frenchman as their new boss in 1996. Many Gunners fan may want Wenger gone at this stage, 21 years later but no-one can deny the positive impact he had. Van Graan’s arrival without the baggage of failure for his first head coaching post is a big gamble for Munster but the possibilities are difficult to ignore.
He comes highly recommended:
Erasmus explained why he wanted JVG to stick around in South Africa, citing his work ethic, knowledge of the game and character as well as a track record that has seen help the Bulls win three Super Rugby titles. So what if he has a low profile? Heyneke Meyer took a punt on Van Graan as a video analyst at the Bulls a decade ago and the rookie helped him win three Super Rugby titles, impressing him so much Meyer brought him along when he got the Springboks job, calling him “probably the best appointment I’ve ever made”.
An end to the uncertainty:
Munster’s players have said all along that Erasmus’s departure has not changed anything about the way they go about things but not knowing who the replacement was cannot have helped in any shape or form. Van Graan’s appointment ends the uncertainty.
The transition period:
With an arrival date expected in mid-november, Van Graan will be eased into his brave new world at Munster by Erasmus and having never been a head coach before, he will need every minute he can get. Yet it will also allow the South African time to synchronise with homegrown assistant coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones before the young management trio are left to their steer the ship, a month before the back-to-back Euro clashes with Leicester Tigers.
— Simon Lewis