New coach van Graan ar­rives in Lim­er­ick next week but still wait­ing on work per­mit

The Irish Times - - Front Page - JOHN FAL­LON

Rassie Eras­mus ex­pects Fri­day’s clash with the Dragons to be his fi­nal game in charge of Mun­ster:

Rassie Eras­mus ex­pects Fri­day evening’s clash with the Dragons to be his fi­nal game in charge of Mun­ster.

New coach Jo­hann van Graan is ex­pected to ar­rive in Lim­er­ick next week and he will be in charge when the Pro14 re­sumes – af­ter the break for the Novem­ber in­ter­na­tion­als – with a tie away to Ze­bre in Parma.

His work per­mit has not been fi­nalised so Eras­mus will re­main on standby in case that doesn’t come through in time, or if the new direc­tor of rugby wants him to stay on board for a few weeks to help Van Graan set­tle in.

“It prob­a­bly is,” said Eras­mus, when asked if Fri­day’s game would be his last. “We are def­i­nitely not go­ing home on Satur­day but with the three-week break and with the tim­ing it looks, bar­ring work per­mit and those things, I think it might be and prob­a­bly is.”

Eras­mus has been in con­stant con­tact with Van Graan, who re­cently spent a week in Lim­er­ick, and is con­fi­dent his fel­low South African will set­tle in quickly.

“We have been in con­tact since it has been an­nounced and he was here for a week. We have been ex­chang­ing emails and tele­phone calls. I know him pretty well. It won’t be a case that I will be to­tally off the radar when I am leav­ing.

“He is com­ing next week, prob­a­bly with the Spring­boks for the Ire­land game. We will try and have a chat then, depend­ing on his needs and how quickly he gets the grasp of ev­ery­thing. There is a good chance that I will still be here while he is here as well,” Eras­mus added.

Eras­mus is not sure if Van Graan will be work­ing with the Spring­boks next week when they ar­rive in Ire­land.

“That is the thing that I am re­ally not sure about. It’s hang­ing in the air cur­rently but I don’t have the an­swer. I don’t want to talk on their be­half and I am not sure if Mun­ster know at this stage. I don’t think that has been clar­i­fied.”

Dif­fi­cult pe­riod

Eras­mus’s reign will be the short­est of any Mun­ster head coach dur­ing the pro­fes­sional era and, re­flect­ing on his time in Ire­land, he said the death of An­thony Foley a year ago was un­doubt­edly the most dif­fi­cult pe­riod, while reach­ing the semi-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons Cup was the high point.

“Axel’s death was the sad­dest, with­out a doubt the sad­dest. The week, or two or three weeks, I felt the most sorry for my­self, self­ishly. I thought that was some­thing to han­dle.

“But then again, it was one of the times where I learned the most about my­self, other peo­ple and about other cul­tures. I wouldn’t say it was a low. It was sad but it was a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me in a lot of things I am do­ing as a coach. I was sup­posed to be direc­tor of rugby and I cer­tainly ad­justed a lot of my think­ing and things while that hap­pened. That wasn’t a low, it was a sad time.

“The highs were some games we scrapped through in the dy­ing min­utes. Prob­a­bly get­ting to the semi-fi­nal against Sara­cens was the big­gest high. I just felt, Mun­ster be­long in the play­off places and not just quar­ter-fi­nals, get­ting to semi-fi­nals and hope­fully win­ning tro­phies. Although we lost that game, it was great ex­pe­ri­ence to get to see so many peo­ple in red.”

Mun­ster have not lost two games in a row since he took charge at the be­gin­ning of last sea­son and hav­ing gone down 20-16 away to Con­nacht last Fri­day will need to take care of Bernard Jack­man’s Dragons to con­tinue that streak.

Typ­i­cal hon­esty

Eras­mus, with typ­i­cal hon­esty, ad­mit­ted that he should have changed the team for the game in Con­nacht, af­ter send­ing full-strength teams out for four games in a row.

“We de­cided in the last game we would put out our best side against Con­nacht. From my side it was maybe the wrong de­ci­sion. Our last eight games, five of them were on the road.

“Then you play a team like Le­in­ster away, Cas­tres away, with the same team. Then a six-day turn­around to Rac­ing with the same team. Then a six-day turn­around for Con­nacht who lie wait­ing for you. They rested five or six of their boys. Then we ran out of legs a lit­tle bit in the game phys­i­cally, as well we were only 14 and got the red card ob­vi­ously.

“On two six-day turn­arounds, the same team play­ing three weeks in a row crept up on us a lit­tle bit. Then on the form we are def­i­nitely not fir­ing on all cylinders.”

‘‘ Axel’s death was the sad­dest, with­out a doubt the sad­dest . . . it was sad but it was a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me

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