Wednesday 16 October 2019

Munster to reassess need for third new coach after landing primary target Larkham


Former Australia international Larkham will join Munster in August. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Former Australia international Larkham will join Munster in August. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster will reassess their initial plans to hire a third new coach after landing their second primary target in a matter of weeks.

Stephen Larkham has followed Graham Rowntree to the province and, given the considerable amount of experience that both new coaches will add to the set-up, Munster are now not in any rush to bring in a third fresh face.

As exclusively revealed by the Irish Independent on June 5, former Australia international Larkham will join Munster in August.

Larkham, who turned down several other attractive offers, has been appointed as a 'senior coach', which is the same title held by Stuart Lancaster in Leinster, but his remit will be focused on the backs and attack.

Signing the 45-year old, who played more than 100 times for the Wallabies, is seen as a major coup for Munster, who are in desperate need of fresh ideas for their attacking game-plan.

Larkham will be expected to bring just that and having spent four years working as backs and attack coach under Michael Cheika with Australia, he will arrive in Limerick with a strong body of work behind him.

Johann van Graan had been hoping to add three new coaches to his backroom team to replace the now departed Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery, but it remains to be seen if that will now be the case.

While there is still scope to bring in a skills coach, the Munster hierarchy are understood to be extremely pleased with the shrewd appointments of Larkham and forwards guru Rowntree, and may not see the need to bring anyone else in, unless the right fit becomes available.

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Noel McNamara had been linked with a role and, although the Ireland U-20s head coach had already ruled himself out of contention for the job that Larkham has now secured, the Clare native is not expected join Munster and instead is being lined up for a more prominent role with the Leinster Academy.

"It has been our intention to recruit one more member for our coaching ticket and we will evaluate our needs prior to progressing with that process," Munster's acting CEO Philip Quinn said.

"Stephen's values are very closely aligned with those of Munster."

Larkham was in Limerick with his family last week when he met Munster officials and finalised the deal.

He has since returned to Australia, where he is currently working as national high performance coach advisor after being controversially axed from the Wallabies set-up earlier this year.

The former out-half will finish up his time at home in the coming weeks before moving to Limerick in August, just in time for the start of the new season.

Munster were eager to hire a new coach who would be available this summer, with Rowntree not due to arrive at the club until he finishes his commitments with Georgia at the upcoming the World Cup.

"A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community," Larkham enthused.

"I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.

"I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I'm very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar."

Irish Independent

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