Sunday 18 March 2018

Munster chief hails new high-performance unit

Garret Fitzgerald. Photo: Kieran Clancy/Sportsfile
Garret Fitzgerald. Photo: Kieran Clancy/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Munster CEO Garret Fitzgerald said there was a good chance that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus would not have joined the province had they still been operating from both Cork and Limerick.

Speaking during a tour of their new high-performance centre in the University of Limerick, Fitzgerald conceded that during their first meeting the South African was perplexed by how a professional club could operate out of two bases 100 kilometres apart.

"We see this as a symbol of our ambition and what we are trying to achieve," said Fitzgerald. "Rassie might not have come at all if there was two centres. He was trying to get his head around it when we spoke on day one."

Considering that Munster won two Heineken Cups while operating out of two separate bases, Erasmus conceded it displayed huge character and talent from coaches and the squad, but that he wasn't sure how possible a repeat of that glory would be in the modern era.

"I am sure it would take guys of exceptional talent and character to do that and we have that character and that talent and now in the one centre," Erasmus said. "I think it's things like this when you can't compare with teams on big budgets, things like this make a massive difference and it will drive the players, the coaches and the management to higher standards."

Erasmus revealed that the first day of his role as senior coach with Stormers was the first day that they also opened their high-performance centre, but he admitted he has never seen anything like the facility Munster now have.

Read more: Erasmus won't rush O'Mahony return

UL have invested €15m of the initial capital for the building that they own, with Munster taking out a 15-year loan on the property, and their rents will go towards the payments for the centre. Once the 15-year deal has concluded, Munster then have the option to renew the contract.

But it is with future player recruitment that Erasmus thinks Munster's new high-performance centre will work well. Already new signing Jaco Taute was bowled over by the facilities.

"I don't know about the rest of the world but rugby union-wise it's probably in the top ten in the world. It is certainly something that gives you pride coming to work and something that will drive excellence here," Erasmus added.

Irish Independent

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