Munster confirm Tony McGahan’s departure with Anhony Foley tipped to succeed
Published 22/02/2012 | 05:00
MUNSTER this morning confirmed that coach Tony McGahan is leaving the province at the end of the current season. He is expected to be ratified as the new Wallabies defence coach at an Australian Rugby Union board meeting on this coming Friday.
Anthony Foley is the early favourite to become the new Munster head coach.
McGahan had already informed his squad of the decision to leave, even though he has led the side to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and the top four of the Pro12.
Former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan and the All Blacks World Cup-winning assistant Wayne Smith are also leading contenders, after contract talks between McGahan and his Munster bosses reached a dead end earlier this month.
Munster may also sound out Michael Bradley, although the Edinburgh coach has only just begun an initially successful spell with the Scots, leading them to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
Conor O'Shea would be a popular choice, although he has just signed a two-year contract extension as coach of English side Harlequins.
McGahan's decision to leave at the end of the season could persuade some players, such as Tomas O'Leary and Donnacha Ryan, to remain in Munster instead of seeking transfers.
McGahan, who initially joined Munster as a defensive coach for their debut Heineken Cup win in 2006, was reportedly keen to stay on after his side's success in reaching this year's knockout stages.
However, the lure of a prestigious role in a revamped Robbie Deans-led coaching set-up in his native country, twinned with the protracted contract negotiations, has persuaded the Queenslander to make his decision.
He had responded brilliantly to Munster's failure to qualify from their Heineken Cup pool last season, by guiding the province into this campaign's knockout stages with six wins from six.
His side also won the Magners League last year and, with Foley seemingly groomed to succeed him in the medium-term, it seemed that McGahan would prolong his stay after the successful introduction of emerging stars such as Simon Zebo and Peter O'Mahony.