Sunday 22 October 2017

'It's a strange circumstance' - Brian O'Driscoll says Erasmus exit will rock Reds

Erasmus handed in his notice in June and will return to his native South Africa in December to take up a position with the SARU. Inset, Brian O'Driscoll
Erasmus handed in his notice in June and will return to his native South Africa in December to take up a position with the SARU. Inset, Brian O'Driscoll
Erasmus handed in his notice in June and will return to his native South Africa in December to take up a position with the SARU. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Brian O'Driscoll believes Rassie Erasmus's impending mid-season departure from Munster could prove a disruptive force in their season.

Although players and staff at the southern province are insisting it's business as usual despite the search for a new coach who is likely to come in midway through the campaign, the former Ireland captain reckons the upheaval will have an effect.

Erasmus handed in his notice in June and will return to his native South Africa with defence coach Jacques Nienaber in December to take up a position with the SARU.

Munster are currently searching for his replacement who will steer the ship from mid-season.

"I suppose there is a danger, because you will have one eye on who is coming in," O'Driscoll said. "It's a strange circumstance to have a head coach leaving halfway through a season, I'm sure they're working on a contingency.

"I don't know who they have lined up, there's lots of speculation about potential successors.

"It's not an ideal situation to find yourself in having done four rounds of Europe and half of your Pro14 season, and then a new voice comes in and they have to continue with the same style of play. You can't change that mid-season, but it's definitely not a perfect situation to find themselves in.

All their talk is that it will be seamless - I struggle to see how it will be seamless if you're listening to one voice for six months and someone else for the next five."

Both Munster and Leinster reached the semi-finals of the Champions Cup last season, while the Reds went one better than their old rivals by reaching the final of the Guinness PRO12; although they both succumbed to the same Scarlets team in the end.

And the former Blues centre believes his old team are best placed of the Irish teams to succeed this season, but he disputes the notion that Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster are under pressure to win the province's first trophy since 2014.

"Not winning a trophy in three years is not the end of the world," he said. "But, you've got to put yourself in the mix, playing a good brand to hold onto your job. Judging on the performance we saw last weekend and on most of the performances last season, Leo and Stuart are a good combination.

"There is good stability there. They are growing something in the Academy, giving lots of guys game-time. There is strength in Leinster right now."

Irish Independent

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