Tuesday 12 December 2017

'The solution here is almost impossible to find' - Marcus Horan and Eddie O'Sullivan lament timing of Rassie Erasmus exit

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus

Jack O'Toole

Two-time Heineken Cup winner Marcus Horan and former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan have lamented the timing of Rassie Erasmus' exit from Munster with the South African set to depart from the province at the end of December.

Director of Rugby Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber will both leave Munster to take up roles with the South African Rugby Union, with Erasmus set to take on the role of South Africa's Director of Rugby, which will see him oversee national teams, management of competitions and development of players, coaches and referees.

Horan said that he was surprised by the move and thought that the former Springbok was set to stay, and that his exit has now left Munster in a state of uncertainty heading into next season.

"I think everyone thought it had all blown over by season's end, and we'd had word that he was staying," Horan told 2fm's Game On on Friday.

"When those rumours kick off again you think it's a slow news week or something, but it's emerged as something bigger and that news this morning is a massive blow.

"You see the situation and you don't know what the best scenario is. Do you cut the cord now and go looking for someone else - I don't think they are in the position to do that, either financially or timewise - or do you try and persuade him to stay on and do a full season?

"I think they have gotten the worst scenario, in a situation where they are building on last season and then the plug is pulled in December.

"How do you prepare the players for that psychologically? How do you prepare the coaching staff that he has there, the likes of Jerry Flannery and Felix (Jones), who've drawn unbelievable confidence from the two South African coaches over the last year?

"It'll have a big impact on them and be a huge test of their character."

Former Ireland coach O'Sullivan also said that the timing of Erasmus' exit would be tough to deal with for Munster, but that if the province had of known that he was bound for a return to South Africa, a contingency plan should have been in place to herald in his successor.

"The solution here is almost impossible to find," said O'Sullivan.

"If Erasmus left now, they wouldn't have a coach in time to start preseason, and even if a coach comes in new he has to impose his system and build his way of doing things.

"That takes time. You saw last year how Connacht unravelled when Pat Lam announced he was leaving. You'd hope things would stay on track until they find somebody, but even then, if they find a new coach in October, when does he come on board?

"The obvious thing that would happen here is that they would cut ties and let him go, which would coast a fair chunk of money that they may not have. Having said that, there is nobody to step in, there is actually no one available.

"It would be a massive ask for Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery to do that. It would be very unfair on them.

"So it's the worst possible scenario here. It's a real conundrum, to thread your way through this and not lose ground. It's be almost impossible to build on last season the way this is panning out.

"The disappointing thing is that this was in the ether going back six months. If this was a reality six months ago, it would have been better if he'd come out and said it six months ago and given Munster a chance to get their house in order."

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