Wednesday 18 July 2018

Munster insist Erasmus won't leave early

 

Rassie Erasmus and (inset) Van Graan
Rassie Erasmus and (inset) Van Graan
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Munster insist their coaching transition will go ahead as planned despite reports in South Africa that Rassie Erasmus will take up his position with SARU on November 1.

New head coach Johann van Graan is set to take over when his work permit is approved in mid-November and the province expect to have a handover period between the two compatriots as soon as that happens.

Erasmus was scheduled to leave the province to take over as the union's director of rugby on December 31, but always said that he could exit earlier if a replacement was found.

Van Graan's appointment was confirmed this week, but Munster expect Erasmus to work with him to ensure a "seamless handover".

A spokesperson for the province said: "it remains the case that Rassie and Johann will have a handover period subject to the work permit being obtained, which we hope will be by mid-November".

South African outlet Netwerk24.com are reporting that the release clause Erasmus triggered in his Munster contract, which was due to come into effect on December 31, will now be activated on October 31 now that the province have found his replacement.

Ulster's Marcell Coetzee. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster's Marcell Coetzee. Photo: Sportsfile

"Rassie will start working at SA Rugby on 1 November," his lawyer, Frikkie Erasmus said.

Munster host the Dragons on November 4 and then have a two-week break before they face Zebre in what is likely to be Van Graan's first game in charge.

With the Springboks touring Europe and playing Ireland on November 11, Erasmus could combine the two roles before handing over to Van Graan on a full-time basis.

Erasmus will likely provide further clarity on the time-line of his departure after tomorrow's Champions Cup clash with Castres.

Simon Zebo has returned to the starting XV, while Mark Flanagan is a surprise inclusion in the second-row as Darren Sweetnam is preferred to Andrew Conway on the wing. Tyler Bleyendaal gets the nod at out-half, with JJ Hanrahan consigned to 'A' duty.

Leinster are forced to do without Johnny Sexton for their meeting with Montpellier this lunch-time.

Ross Byrne comes in for the Ireland star who has a dead leg, while Isa Nacewa captains the side on his return.

Meanwhile, former Ireland women's No 8 Joy Neville will be an assistant referee at a men's international for the first time next month when the Barbarians face Tonga on November 10.

New Zealander Ben O'Keeffe takes charge of Ireland's meeting with South Africa, while Paul Williams will ref Ireland v Fiji and Mathieu Raynal officiates at Ireland v Argentina.

Meanwhile, Ulster have been dealt a major blow with the news that Marcell Coetzee is facing another nine months on the sidelines.

Ulster confirmed that Coetzee has suffered a recurrence of his cruciate injury and has already had revision surgery on his knee in South Africa.

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