Thursday 23 November 2017

Anthony Foley refusing to get involved in Paul O'Connell director of rugby talk

Anthony Foley and Paul O'Connell during their playing days together
Anthony Foley and Paul O'Connell during their playing days together
Munster head coach Anthony Foley. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

John Fallon

Anthony Foley said that the possibility of Paul O'Connell becoming Munster's new director of rugby is something entirely for the former Lions and Ireland captain to consider and not an issue he is going to become involved in.

Foley said that his primary concern was ensuring that Munster produced a storming finish to the season and he is not going to be side-tracked by who fills the newly created director of rugby position.

The Munster coach, who last week signed a one-year extension to his contract, is in his second campaign in charge and he said he is not concerned about having to report to a new boss next season.

"You are always answerable to somebody. Everybody is answerable to somebody so that's no change. That's there at the present. It just might be a different person," he said.

Foley said he did not know if the director of rugby would be in place for the start of next season, nor did he know if he would have any input into who is selected.

"I don't know to be honest. I haven't asked to have an input, I am more concentrating on the here and now, and making sure that we get results on the weekend. It's something that I talk to the CEO about every now and then but it's not a regular occurrence."

Speculation that the recently retired O'Connell might be the suitable candidate is not something which Foley is dwelling on.

"That is something you would need to talk to Paul about. It is not something I would talk about," he said.

Foley confirmed that former England assistant coach Andy Farrell - due to take over as Ireland defence coach - has completed his brief spell with Munster and he paid tribute to him.

"Very positive. He was good around the place, good with the lads, good advice for the coaches around the place. It was great to have another voice in the room," he said.

Foley revealed that his own contract extension had been agreed some time ago but that a few other issues, including the new director of rugby position, had to be sorted out before it was confirmed publicly.

"It was done a while. It was just a matter of getting other stuff sorted," he said.

Foley, who expects to have all his Irish internationals back this week as they prepare to host Zebre at Thomond Park on Friday evening, said that Tyler Bleyendaal is due back on the pitch in a week or two having trained fully yesterday.

Mark Chisholm and Rory Scannell, both following return to play protocols after knocks to the head, are the main concerns this week.

Munster will play two away Irish derbies following the Zebre game, with over 35,000 tickets sold for their clash with Leinster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week, while two weeks later the Sportsground will be packed, but Foley said they were not looking beyond Friday's clash.

"We all understand the situation we are in. It is not going to make you play better. It is about making sure we prepare properly during the week and focus on one game at a time. Other games will look after themselves," he said.

Irish Independent

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