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Sunday 22 July 2018

'He was caught off-guard' - Erasmus offers explanation for why Niall Scannell told media he was staying at Munster

19 May 2017; Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus before the Guinness PRO12 Semi-Final match between Leinster and Scarlets at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
19 May 2017; Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus before the Guinness PRO12 Semi-Final match between Leinster and Scarlets at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Outgoing Munster Director of Rugby has tried to explain the confusion surrounding his departure, after hooker Niall Scannell told the media near the end of last season that the South African had confirmed he was staying for another campaign.

It has since been announced that Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber will return for roles with the Springboks in December, although the Munster boss said in a statement yesterday that he could be gone sooner if a replacement is found before then.

Erasmus addressed the media at today's PRO 14 launch for the first time since the news of his departure broke, and was asked why Scannell said at a press conference that he was staying in charge after the Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Saracens at the end of April.

Read more: Rassie Erasmus 'clarified' to Munster squad that he will stay on as Director of Rugby

The former Springbok international told reporters that he kept the players updated throughout the process.

"I think Niall was caught a little off-guard in the media conference," he told RTÉ Sport.

"When I was asked if I would take the evolution further, I said yes, because at that stage I didn’t engage with SANZAR. It was still the same message: 'I don’t know if I’m leaving, one day we’ll see'.

"In an online interview, Niall was told, ‘Rassie just said he’s staying here for the next year’. He just said, ‘Yeah he’s always been honest in telling us he’s staying'.

"The players have been informed from day one. I’m sitting with them daily. They know what goes on in my head."

Erasmus acknowledged that some Munster fans would be unhappy with his departure, but said that the majority had wished him well.

"There must be some supporters there that really don’t like me now, but most of the guys I have come up to have said, ‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity’," Erasmus said.

"Everybody is just so level-headed about it.

"I think people see the bigger picture and I thank them for that."I know there must be some thinking that I must be dropping them off during the season. I’ve never walked out of a contract, but I’ve never had the opportunity to walk out of a contract into a national job.

"Supporters make the club, that’s why Munster will easily get a world class coach in."

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