Monday 20 November 2017

Mannix insists he's not bitter ahead of Paris return

David Kelly

David Kelly

Simon Mannix could be forgiven for bearing a grudge when he confronts his former employers for the first time this weekend on European rugby's biggest stage.

The genial Kiwi insists, however, that he feels no bitterness towards the Racing Metro club who sacked him as backs coach so ignominiously last season -- but he does declare that he will pitch up in Paris with unfinished business on his mind.

"There has never really been any bitterness about it," admitted the Munster assistant, sacked after a bonus point win against Biarritz, despite the fact that a clutch of players sided with their popular coach against the then head coach, former French scrum-half Pierre Berbizier.

"It's more a case of you get to the end of something in which you've invested so much. When I was told I was no longer required, I thought: 'S**t, I haven't finished off what I wanted to do here.'

"There was that sadness on my part, that I didn't finish what I wanted to achieve. There's certainly no bitterness. I fully understand the way French rugby works. I'm pretty philosophical about it.

"I would never speak badly about the club. There's maybe one or two issues with one or two individuals. They made their decision and we move on with it. "Coaching a victory with Munster at Racing Metro? I couldn't care where we went, just so long as we win. I don't care who we're playing. It's special because of my relationship with players there.

"But that's a small side thing for me. The bigger picture is coaching Munster to win away in the first game in the Heineken Cup. That's what I want this weekend."

Mannix (left) could have afforded himself a wry smile this week as reports emerged of another impending culling at the Parisian club, whose heavily monetised efforts to crack the Top14 and Europe have so fair failed dismally to bear fruit.

Gonzalo Quesada, the man who succeeded him, is himself in line for 'le chop,' while the worst-kept secret in French rugby will see highly-rated Castres duo Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers enter the seemingly ever-revolving door next term.

"At least he's safe in the knowledge he has another year" he smiled. "He had a difficult situation taking over from me. There was a lot of player support in my time at Racing, which possibly wasn't going the way Berbizier wanted. It was a difficult one, but he handled it very well.

"I expect a strong reaction and concentration from players. They won't be too bothered about it."

Irish Independent

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