Tuesday 6 December 2016

Munster to hand Foley third season in hot seat

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

Anthony Foley. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Anthony Foley. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Anthony Foley is expected to be confirmed soon as Munster coach for another season. Negotiations on taking up the third-year option on his contract started early this month, and "have gone well," according to a senior Munster source.

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"All parties involved have agreed to leave it now until after Christmas."

Foley signed a two-year deal, with an option for a third, in 2014. Under the terms of the contract exploring that option needed to begin by December 1.

The development comes at a crucial time in Munster's season, with three losses on the trot in the Pro12 and Champions Cup, and three huge tests coming around the corner. Those hurdles feature Leicester in Welford Road on Sunday in the return leg, followed by league games over the Christmas period against Leinster in Limerick and Ulster in Belfast.

The situation regarding Foley's backroom team is unclear. Brian Walsh, Ian Costello, Mick O'Driscoll and Jerry Flannery - along with Foley - made up the first all-Irish coaching roster at provincial level in this country. Costello was in situ when Foley got the head coaching role, and he subsequently added the other three.

Foley has been with the province all of his professional career, first as player and then coach. He represented the Reds 201 times before retiring in 2008, moving straight onto the coaching team as assistant on defence, under head coach Tony McGahan.

That apprenticeship developed as forwards coach under Rob Penney in 2011. The New Zealander moved on after two seasons when he was unimpressed with the deal Munster offered him to stay. That allowed Foley into the top job, which has seen him take Munster to the final of last season's Pro12, where they were beaten by Glasgow - they currently lie third in the table.

They failed to get out of their European pool however. Their current European campaign depends on how they fare against the Tigers on Sunday.

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