Sport Rugby

Sunday 16 December 2018

Murray hopes Van Graan resists the lure of home club

Munster head coach Johann Van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster head coach Johann Van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

After a number of years of chopping and changing, Conor Murray hopes Munster head coach Johann van Graan won't be lured home by the Blue Bulls.

Reports in South Africa claim the former Springboks assistant is on a shortlist of names for the job left vacant by England's new defence coach John Mitchell.

Rassie Erasmus's departure was heavily flagged in his homeland and the presence of the former Munster supremo on the selection committee won't ease any worries about his successor's future.

Nor will the presence of Van Graan's father Barend, who is the outgoing chief executive of the Pretoria-based franchise.

Van Graan has a standard break clause in his contract but Murray hopes he won't follow Erasmus in making a premature exit.

Continuity, he says, is a major priority for the province.

"It's key. It's massive, especially with new guys coming in and bedding in," he said.

"I've had four coaches with Munster and I've actually talked to Johann about that and from what I gather he's keen to stay and he loves what we're doing here and what he's building.

Inheriting

"He came in at the middle of last season and he was inheriting half of Rassie and Jacques' (Nienaber) game plan and we wanted to keep a bit of that because we knew it worked, and we didn't want to change everything and he didn't want to change everything in the middle of the season.

"So this pre-season he has stamped his game plan on it. We've done really well in Europe, our league has been a bit hit and miss.

"I was away from the squad initially but I've been back in the last three or four weeks, and there's real clarity; there's a real good buzz."

Murray admitted that a sense of unfinished business with his home province was a major factor in his recent decision to extend his contract until 2022.

"If I finish my rugby-playing career in Ireland having not won anything with Munster since 2011 it would be a major annoyance," he said.

"It would really get to me. I've said it for years, there's something building, there's something building, but I think we definitely have the player pool now.

"I'm very confident in the coaching staff we have now, and we just have to bring it together.

"It's just that we're dealing with Leinster and they're the best team in Europe, and they're your neighbours, so that's what we're always competing against.

"But we made the two semi-finals last season so we're close. We're not a million miles away."

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