Sunday 23 September 2018

Highly-rated Felix Jones rejects Rassie Erasmus' Springboks offer

 

Munster coach Felix Jones. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster coach Felix Jones. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Felix Jones has turned down an offer from Rassie Erasmus to become the Springboks' skills coach in favour of remaining with Munster.

Since cutting his contract with Munster short earlier this season, and returning to become South Africa's director of rugby, Erasmus has already secured the services of the province's head of athletic performance Aled Walters.

The Irish Independent understands that Walters was not the only member of Munster's backroom team that Erasmus targeted in an audacious swoop, with Jones being his main target.

Erasmus had lined up Jones as the Boks skills coach but having signed a new two-year contract with Munster last summer, the former full-back rejected his advances and will continue as Munster's backs and attack coach.

During the transitional period until Johann van Graan came in, Jones took on Erasmus' coaching responsibilities.

Jones' reputation has been rapidly growing since Joe Schmidt recommended him for the position at Munster after he was forced to prematurely retire with a neck injury.

The 30-year old spent time with Schmidt's Ireland on last summer's tour in Japan and is seen as a central part of Irish Rugby's plans going forward.

Once it became clear that Erasmus would return home, Munster had been resigned to losing defence guru Jacques Nienaber, and although they made a significant offer for him to remain with the province, he followed his life-long friend back to the Springboks setup.

Munster are however, believed to be disappointed by Erasmus trying to lure several other members of their backroom staff with him.

It is unlikely that Erasmus' failed attempts have totally soured his relationship with the club, particularly after he saw them through an extremely difficult period.

To add to that, the former boss is the driving force behind a potential Munster v Springboks clash at Thomond Park, which is currently being discussed.

Meanwhile, Munster have been given a boost ahead of their Champions Cup clash with Racing as Billy Holland (above), Stephen Archer and Kevin O'Byrne have signed two-year contract extensions.

As well as the senior trio committing their futures to their home province, Liam O'Connor, Fineen Wycherley and Calvin Nash will also be promoted from the academy next season.

Munster have also confirmed that they have added a second, 18-year-old South African youngster to their academy, after confirming the arrival of tighthead prop Keynon Knox yesterday.

Matt Moore, who plays in the centre or at full-back has also joined the province.

The duo arrived in the country in late 2017, which means that they would be able to complete a three-year residency period and qualify for Ireland before World Rugby's rules change to five years on December 31, 2020.

Snapping up foreign players at an even younger age is, however, bound to raise plenty of eyebrows.

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