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Johann van Graan uses break clause to change mind on Munster deal with Bath hovering

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Munster head coach Johann van Graan could be leaving Limerick for Bath next season. Photo: Gruffydd Thomas/Sportsfile

Munster head coach Johann van Graan could be leaving Limerick for Bath next season. Photo: Gruffydd Thomas/Sportsfile

Munster head coach Johann van Graan could be leaving Limerick for Bath next season. Photo: Gruffydd Thomas/Sportsfile

Munster are on the hunt for a new head coach after Johann van Graan opted out of a contract, which he had signed earlier this year.

The Irish Independent has learned that despite the initial suggestion being that Van Graan had turned down Munster’s offer of a two-year extension, the South African had in fact already signed on the dotted line.

However, a clause which is part of his IRFU contract has allowed Van Graan to effectively change his mind, and as a result he will leave the province at the end of the season, with his next destination believed to be Bath.

The latest developments have come as a major disappointment for Munster and the IRFU, as both parties believed Van Graan would be staying on as head coach.

The break clause is understood to be similar to the one used by Van Graan’s predecessor Rassie Erasmus to leave Munster in 2017, as well as when Pat Lam departed Connacht for Bristol in the same year.

“A contract extension of two years was agreed with Johann in March (signed in August) by the IRFU and Munster to run to June 2024,” a spokesperson for the IRFU said.

“Johann has now indicated his desire to exercise a clause in the agreement which allows him to not proceed with the signed agreement.

“As per the comment from David (Nucifora) earlier today, we are disappointed to lose him but wish him and his family well for the future.”

Van Graan is expected to join Bath, as the Irish Independent understands that talks with the Premiership’s winless basement side are already well under way.

The 41-year-old’s impending departure comes on the back of Stephen Larkham’s recent decision to return home to Australia at the end of the season to rejoin the Brumbies.

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Although Munster’s press release did not mention defence coach JP Ferreira, he is Van Graan’s right-hand man and as such his future is up in the air. Ferreira could also join Bath, who yesterday appointed his compatriot Brent Janse van Rensburg as defence coach until the end of the season.

It remains to be seen what lies ahead for Graham Rowntree, who is also out of contract at the end of the season, but the Englishman and his family are understood to have settled well in Limerick.

That effectively leaves Munster looking for a head coach, as well as an attack and defence specialist.

Meanwhile, the luckless Joey Carbery is facing another spell out after fracturing his elbow in the win over Wasps. The 26-year-old will undergo surgery tomorrow.


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