Erasmus: ‘I’d like to work with Van Graan in South Africa’
Munster 39 Cardiff Blues 16
Off-field matters continue to dominate the agenda in Munster but on the pitch at least, Rassie Erasmus' side got back to winning ways ahead of their showdown with Leinster.
The picture surrounding the identity of Munster's new boss remains somewhat murky and although it is expected to be Johann van Graan, Erasmus cast doubt over the Springboks assistant coach moving to Limerick when he stressed that he would like him to be part of his backroom team when he returns to South Africa to begin his new job.
Munster are seemingly placing a lot of trust in Erasmus' recommendations, and just like he did with David Wessels recently, the Reds' director of rugby publicly backed Van Graan, if indeed he does want to become a boss in his own right.
"He is someone that I would like to work with, with the Springboks," Erasmus said of Van Graan.
"I know it's down to one guy; I also thought it was Dave Wessels - at one stage, it was like a certain thing.
"Now everyone seems pretty sure it's Johann van Graan, but I'm not so sure it's Johann van Graan. I'm not sure if the Springboks will let him go because he's a really brilliant coach. I really don't know.
"Whenever they have asked me about a candidate, my only involvement is, they ask me do I know the guy and what I think of him. I'm not in the mix at all.
"But I can tell you, just like I vouched for Dave Wessels last time… his work ethic, knowledge, character… he's a guy that's been involved with teams and won two or three Super Rugby titles, he has been with the Springboks for six or seven years.
"That's why I am saying it will be interesting (to see) if the Springboks let him go, if it's him. I can't talk enough about this guy's work ethic and knowledge of the game."
The Springboks' head coach Allister Coetzee reacted angrily when he was asked about the speculation linking his assistant to Munster.
Coetzee, who is under severe pressure to keep his job, snapped at reporters and insisted nothing had been signed and that Van Graan was still contracted to the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
"I would be surprised (if SARU released him)," Erasmus continued. "Just because he is quality and he knows the system and everyone and the players really well. Coaching against him when he was at the Bulls was really tough.
"We struggled to win games because he has got such knowledge across all the different disciplines, from lineouts to attack to defence. He's a really sharp guy who eats, sleep and drinks rugby so I'm not sure if South Africa will release him.
"Look, like what Munster are doing for me and giving me the opportunity to go back and work at that level… if a person's dream is to come to Munster and become a head coach, which is a fantastic job and it's a job where it maybe takes you to the next level.
"If that's something that will make the club better and that person better, it would be stupid to stand in his way because he's a young guy.
"In that regard I understand it but I also understand the big role he plays in the Springboks set-up. Luckily, it's not my decision because I wouldn't know what to do."
The convoluted coaching situation may not be rectified until after the completion of South Africa's Rugby Championship next week but Munster have other pressing matters to be concerned with.
They put their hammering in Glasgow behind them with a bonus-point win over Cardiff Blues but they did have to mount a second-half comeback.
Conor Murray, who along with CJ Stander and Peter O'Mahony played for the first time since the Lions tour, scored the first of five tries, and the hosts ran riot as Cardiff capitulated in the second half.
John Ryan, Robin Copeland and a brace from JJ Hanrahan, who was making his second debut for the club, sealed what ended up being an easy victory but Jaco Taute's knee injury is a serious concern. An update on the severity of the damage is expected from Munster today.
Tyler Bleyendaal missed the game due to personal reasons and his replacement Ian Keatley kicked 14 points to heap the pressure on the Kiwi ahead of Saturday's trip to the Aviva.
Although he came on at full-back, Hanrahan looked very sharp and he will also be desperate for a shot in the No 10 jersey.
"I guess Keatley's performance was really solid," Erasmus said. "Listen, all respect to Leinster and we're not underestimating them, because they're too good, but before we go into Europe we might have to try one or two things, which wouldn't be disrespectful.
"Leinster is massive for us, but again it's an away PRO14 game and I'm trying to plan to not have the guys punch drunk by the second European game.
"I want to build the guys up so to get the win for morale and confidence was very important and now it's (about) continuity into Europe."
Munster - A Conway (JJ Hanrahan 53); D Sweetnam, J Taute (C Farrell 19), R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, C Murray (D Williams 73); D Kilcoyne (L O'Connor 72), N Scannell (R Marshall 57), J Ryan (S Archer 61); R Copeland (M Flanagan 70), B Holland; P O'Mahony (capt) (S McCarthy 74), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.
Cardiff Blues - R Williams (M Morgan 61); B Scully (capt) J Roberts (S Shingler 14), W Halaholo, T James (K Assiratt 28); J Evans, T Williams (L Williams 71); B Thyer (C Domachowski 71), M Rees (E Lewis 63), T Filise; G Earle (S Davies 63), J Down; J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams (M Cook 61).
Ref - Q Immelman (South Africa)