Saturday 17 August 2019

Emotional Erasmus puts faith in 'world-class' coaches Flannery and Jones to keep Munster ship rolling on

Erasmus: "Coming home and seeing what you’re coming back into, and that you’re playing for something bigger than yourself, the Munster jersey, that’s what so special about it." Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Rassie Erasmus, perhaps like many of his kin, is someone who may have once presumed could manage the yawning distance between himself and emotion.

Funny, he had to travel halfway across the world to find there was hardly a gap at all.

He may have impacted upon Munster during a storm-ridden sojourn but Munster - and Ireland - affected him just as deeply; even to the point of tightening his family unit.

"When I put my wife and my children on the plane home last week, it was a massive thing," he revealed, as he metaphorically closed the door of his office and flicked off the light switch.

His homeland is tugging his sleeve; it is obvious that this second home has pulled his heartstrings.

"It's tough, it will always be part of my life. It wasn't just rugby. My family, certainly we've grown closer here.

"In South Africa you get so involved and busy, fly all over the world. Here as a family you flew over then you just get to know one another and then you grow much tighter.

"It was really good for my family life and my personal life so I think that helped me a lot and then in rugby... man, I learned a lot."

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Though he leaves, Erasmus firmly believes that not only his incoming successor, compatriot Johann van Graan, but home-grown coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones can propel Munster forward.

"I'm telling you they are world-class coaches," he says of the young Irish duo.

"Sometimes people say you must coach 10 or 15 years to be considered a world-class coach but I really think differently. Felix and Jerry coached last year in Europe our team to the top four and they are world-class coaches.

"They will go through some tough times and nerves and they won't sleep at night, they must go through all of that stuff but the one thing is the work ethic.

"And what they lack in experience they make up in relentless work rate and they will always be successful because they are very hard workers.

"Myself and Johann have chatted about so many things already.

"Look when you are from a different country it takes you a month or two to find out how things work.

"Sometimes you can get sidetracked getting your children into a school and wondering, you know, where's the church?

"There's a lot of things that you don't know how to work and the moment you can get past those things and concentrate on the coaching, those things don't sidetrack you.

"He's an excellent coach. I think if he settles in quickly he'll do very well."

JJ Hanrahan once left Munster himself, of course, before last summer's repatriation on the instructions of Erasmus; like his departing coach, it is a place he missed only when it wasn't there.

"I knew when I was leaving how special it was but when you're away you see it more and more and more," he says.

"Coming home and seeing what you're coming back into, and that you're playing for something bigger than yourself, the Munster jersey, that's what so special about it.

"The boys around us and the community and family is something you can't replace."

Defence coach Jacques Nienaber will be missed, too.

"Jacques is an incredible person," says the Currow man.

"He's so passionate it's incredible. Jacques had a few personal things going on during the week but when he spoke on Wednesday, when they were wrapping up saying their goodbyes, he had tears in his eyes.

"That shows how much it means to him and we really wanted to put in a good performance for him."

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