Sport Rugby

Sunday 21 January 2018

Erasmus struggles to play down fresh rumours over Springbok return

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster director of coaching Rassie Erasmus has dismissed as speculation fresh media reports that he is to return to South Africa on a four-year deal.

The reports suggest that defence coach Jacques Nienaber, who arrived with him from South Africa, may be poised to take over at Munster during the summer.

Nienaber, a former Springbok defence coach, is as highly regarded as Erasmus among the Munster players and management. The possibility of him remaining in Ireland could become part of a deal to allow Erasmus to leave just one year into a three-season term.

At UL yesterday morning, Erasmus repeated his stance from last week that nothing had been arranged, while Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald was said to be too busy to meet the media for a short interview which might clear up the matter.

Erasmus said it was vital that his own position did not become an issue as Munster look forward to a Champions Cup semi-final clash with Saracens, as well as their drive for glory in the Guinness Pro12.

"It's really speculation and when something is really definite, I will tell you guys," he responded, when asked if there were any reassurances he could give to Munster fans that he would be there next season.

Read more: Lam still gunning for Champions Cup despite Zebre slip-up

"South Africa is close to my heart and I talk to them daily. There is really constant conversation going on but all the things in the media are speculation. Some things are said that are really not true.

"I've also got an obligation not to make me something in the middle of our season… last week, people were asking me if it was a distraction. It's not something internally that we have talked about because it is not an issue at this stage."

On the injury front, CJ Stander is awaiting the results of a scan on an ankle injury, while Erasmus said that captain Peter O'Mahony is recovering from a dead leg, Keith Earls was also making good progress from a back issue, while Ian Keatley is expected to return to training this week.

And Erasmus said he would give Conor Murray every chance to be available for Saturday's clash with Glasgow Warriors after the Ireland scrum-half was a late withdrawal from the Toulouse game.

Erasmus watched Saracens overcome Glasgow Warriors on Sunday and said he was under no illusion about the task which faces his men against the European champions at the Aviva.

"Composure, ability to handle the big stage, a winning culture, world-class players, something you would expect from double champions in Europe and the Premiership…" he said.

"They have great players and great coaches but our biggest challenge will be to try and match their experience in situations like this. They'll have the edge on us in experience but we're playing in Ireland and that will even out things."

Irish Independent

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