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More coaching upheaval at Munster as Stephen Larkham announces departure

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Stephen Larkham is to leave Munster. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Stephen Larkham is to leave Munster. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Stephen Larkham is to leave Munster. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Munster have been dealt a major blow with the news that senior coach Stephen Larkham has turned down the offer of a new contract and will return home to Australia at the end of this season.

The World Cup winning Wallabies great is expected to re-join the Brumbies once the current campaign is completed, meaning Johann van Graan must reconstruct his coaching ticket yet again.

Larkham was recruited to the influential role in 2019 after Felix Jones chose to leave the province along with Jerry Flannery.

Along with former England assistant coach Graham Rowntree, his appointment was heralded as a game-changer for the set-up but results have failed to follow and Munster have not been able to claim a first trophy since 2011 on his watch.

Larkham, who is currently in South Africa with the squad ahead of Saturday's game against the Bulls, said he is putting his family first.

"I only recently spoke about my desire to remain with Munster and continue working with my fellow coaches and playing group," he said in a statement.

"That hopefully gives some indication as to how difficult a decision this has been for me. The staff, players, fans, and facilities are world class here and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

"My family made a number of sacrifices in joining me on this move to Ireland and my girls’ adjustment over here, particularly with covid, has been difficult. I have to put them first now, and with a coaching opportunity closer to home this is the right thing for my family at this time.

"For now, my focus is very much with Munster Rugby and with a long season ahead I will savour every moment of working within this great environment as we continue to build in the right direction."

Van Graan and his other assistants, JP Ferreira and Rowntree, are expected to sign two year deals to extend their stays but now face a fresh recruitment process to identfy a replacement for Larkham who had a broad remit as part of the set-up.

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Finding a replacement with a similar CV will be a real challenge for a province that has identified a lack of continuity of coaching as an issue in their quest to end their trophy drought.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora will play a role in the recruitment process.


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