Monday 16 September 2019

Munster boss Erasmus rejects favouritism claims overs extension to Taute contract

Jaco Taute taking on Leinster’s Rory O’Loughlin
Jaco Taute taking on Leinster’s Rory O’Loughlin
Paul O’Connell made a winning ‘debut’ yesterday on his switch to the coach’s box in new role as assistant coach to the Munster Development team. He and head coach Greig Oliver (right) watched on at Thomond Park as their charges got the better of an Ireland U-20 XV. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster coach Rassie Erasmus has rejected murmurings from the other three provinces and insisted that his side are not being given special treatment in being allowed to sign Jaco Taute for the rest of the season.

Taute, capped three times by South Africa, was drafted in on a short-term contract when former All Black Francis Saili was injured, but it is almost a done deal that the impressive centre will remain with Munster until at least the end of the season.

The move has raised eyebrows in other provinces with Ulster set to lose Ruan Pienaar at the end of the season, while this week Pat Lam, who had hoped to add his son to an injury-stricken Connacht squad, said he was told he could only add Irish-­qualified players to cover for injuries.

"Well I'm not sure what the other provinces' cases were," said Erasmus. "Our one is a simple one. We got an injury, we got a stand-in, and now we've got some more injuries so that's how our one has been presented.

"I think it's a very valid reason to try and do that. I can't comment on the other guys.

"I wouldn't know the other specific cases and how it's being treated. I wouldn't know exactly what's going on. It's for us, injury cover, which we've used and now we have some more injuries in the back three.

"It would be very stupid for me to comment on what the other guys do because I've only been here for four months. And as I say we still have to sort out a few things before that's a definite."

Taute, whose contract ends after tomorrow's clash with Connacht, has been impressive for Munster and with ever-present winger Darren Sweetnam set to be out for a number of weeks, Erasmus is glad to have a player of the South African's quality available.

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"We really have some bad injuries now. Darren Sweetnam is out for a while. Then Alex Wootton and Bill Johnston, we lost him for a while. The nice thing about Jaco is that he's played full-back at provincial level and actually was in Springbok camps as a full-back.

"He's got 90-plus games in the back three so that would help us if he could stay on and I think we'll find a way."

Erasmus said that Sweetnam, who was injured when he was tackled without the ball by Zane Kirchner in Monday's 29-17 win over Leinster, could be out for two to three weeks but that Munster would not be pursuing the incident any further. "Well it's one of those things," he said. "Nothing is going to change now. It's just unfortunate because he was in such nice form."

Andrew Conway may feature against Connacht tomorrow after an elbow injury was not as bad as initially feared.

Meanwhile, Paul O'Connell's coaching career began on a winning note at Thomond Park yesterday. He was assistant coach to a Munster Development XV which beat the Irish U-20 side 35-21, running in five converted tries.

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