Erasmus non-committal on Munster future
“I’m big friends with the current (South African) coaches and management team”
Rassie Erasmus: “There have been formal and informal chats the past few months. It’s just speculation at this stage. I was in South Africa my whole life so I know the set-up really well.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Rassie Erasmus has responded to reports in the South African media that he is set to return home to renew his position within SARFU next June by declaring it to be “speculation” and that he is still in the first year of a three-year contract with Munster and the IRFU.
However, the Munster Director of Rugby today did admit: “There have been formal and informal chats the past few months. It’s just speculation at this stage. I was in South Africa my whole life so I know the set-up really well.
“I’m big friends with the current coaches and management team. There’s been formal and informal chats the past few months. Some have been requests, some have been pure chats. It’s just speculation at this stage.
“I’ve got a contract with the IRFU and nothing’s changing.”
Erasmus also all but confirmed that Donnacha Ryan will be leaving Munster at the end of the season to join Racing 92 on a two-year deal after the lock was downgraded from an international contract and Munster could not come close to matching the deal on offer from the Parisian club, where Ronan O’Gara is one of the assistant coaches.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed for us but I think we have to be happy for Donnacha if that’s what he wants to do. He’s served Munster well and I guess at his age he’s got one big contract left in him. We made the best offer we could, which was for two years.
“He didn’t get a national contract again, so it was tough for us to afford him and so when the likes of Racing and those guys make you offers it’s really big money which we can’t compete with. So it’s really sad on one hand and we’re really going to miss him, but we’re happy for him.”
Asked if he was annoyed that Ryan had not been offered another international contract from the IRFU after what has probably been the player’s best season for Ireland, Erasmus said: “No, I’m definitely not annoyed. I fully understand that you only have so much money if you’re the IRFU and you have to fit players into that budget. If Joe Schmidt and David Nucifora decide those are the best players, they are the guys that stand over the results for the national team when they’re playing.
“So if they believe other players are better than that, then we must respect them signing those players, because at the end of the day they have to carry the results. You can’t beg for a national contract.”
Munster host Toulouse in a reprise of the 2008 final, and indeed the quarter-final of three seasons ago when they beat the four-time champions 47-23 at Thomond Park, but Conor Murray remains a major doubt with the shoulder injury he suffered against Wales in Ireland’s penultimate Six Nations match.
“He obviously had that injury and then he didn’t play the next text match, so last week we gave most of the international guys a week off against Zebre. We gave them a little bit of a rest and he was one of them,” said Erasmus.
“He’s back in today and he’s going to train with us, and we’re going to give him until Saturday morning to see if he can recover fully, and hopefully he will. He’s definitely not out of the game but I would say he’s 50-50.”