Sunday 18 February 2018

Anthony Foley given February ultimatum by Munster

Munster coach must make up his mind on new deal next month

Munster head coach Anthony Foley shares a joke with incoming defensive coach Andy Farrell (left) in Limerick yesterday. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Munster head coach Anthony Foley shares a joke with incoming defensive coach Andy Farrell (left) in Limerick yesterday. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Munster will review the position of all of their coaching staff when the Six Nations gets underway next month, but chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald insists it remains Anthony Foley's decision whether he will take up the option of a third season in charge.

The province yesterday drafted in Ireland's incoming defence coach Andy Farrell as a consultant who will work with the management team for two days a week in an advisory capacity.

Head coach Foley has admitted that he is considering his position after Saturday's humiliating defeat to Stade Francais and the resulting European exit, but will be given time to find a solution.

Whether the same goes for Foley's backroom team remains to be seen. Ian Costello, Brian Walsh, Mick O'Driscoll and Jerry Flannery are out of contract at the end of the season and no decision has been taken on whether they will continue in their roles.

Walsh and O'Driscoll are believed to be considering exiting to return to their previous jobs, with Michael Bradley being linked with the backs coach role.

Fitzgerald said those decisions will be put on ice until after Saturday's game against Zebre, after which the province have a week without a game to assess their season so far.

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Munster want to avoid the situation that Leinster found themselves in last year when they sacked Matt O'Connor in May with no plan of succession in place.

"We'll review the situation once the Six Nations kicks off, that would be fair," said Fitzgerald.

"The point (that Leinster left it too late) is very valid, there's a very limited number of top-class coaches available at any time around the world.

"He (Foley) has been offered the renewal of it. All the head coaches provincially are IRFU employees. So in conjunction with the IRFU and following reviews that would take place in any normal employee situation, obviously we feel he's the right person at this stage to do that.

"In any employment situation, people may get a change of minds themselves for different reasons, or pressure. But that's the way we see it at the moment."

Fitzgerald said that out-of-contract players Conor Murray and Keith Earls are close to signing new deals, while he remains "very optimistic" about the chances of retaining Simon Zebo while acknowledging the Ireland wing is in demand.

Murray is "at an advanced stage" of negotiations on a new central deal with the IRFU, while Zebo is dealing with Munster with his talks.

Fitzgerald has been the province's chief executive's chief executive since 1999 and remains confident that he is the right man to lead the province out of its current crisis.

Irish Independent

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