Foley focusing on Leinster clash rather than contract talks

Coach in talks about third year at Munster but more concerned about getting result

Anthony Foley's Christmas wish is for Munster to beat Leinster in their Guinness Pro12 clash at Thomond Park next Sunday (5.15pm) over and above any personal consideration in negotiating an extension to his current contract.

The Munster coach, who is in his second season in charge, is currently in talks about implementing an option of a third year but he made it clear where his priorities lie.

“I’m more concerned around getting a result at the weekend; I’m not looking after my own interests here,” he said.

“If I feel that we can’t get the results and we are in a results business then why bother? Look, everything on the side of it – recruitment, contract extensions – are all white noise at the moment. They are not a part of my mindset.”


Foley clarified why the issue has emerged at this point, as it was an agreed timeline that the option of the third year would be dealt with at this time.

“There was a deadline of December 1st to agree something or to try and get the extra year extended. The IRFU are happy with that. There are a few things that need to be clarified. It’ll probably be the next few weeks before anything is done around that.”

Dislocated hip

There was some good news as flanker Tommy O’Donnell is set to feature for the first time since suffering a dislocated hip in August against Wales. It was feared the 28-year-old might be out until February but has made a swift recovery.

“In fairness, he has blown a lot of people away with the work he has been asked to do. A lot of that is down to his application and his drive to get back in,” said Foley.

Dave O'Callaghan (hamstring) and BJ Botha (concussion) are doubtful but a fit again Tyler Bleyendaal (thigh) could play, particularly if there are constraints over game time for Ireland squad members. Foley refused to be drawn on comments made by the IRFU's David Nucifora that Australian captain Stephen Moore had rejected an offer from Munster, rather than the IRFU blocking the move.

“Look I can’t really comment on what I don’t know. I’ll talk to Garrett [Fitzgerald] and I think we are meeting David [Nucifora] and Joe [Schmidt] over the next number of days.

Two-week suspension


Cian Healy

will be available to play against Munster this weekend after an independent disciplinary committee allowed an appeal against the two-week suspension imposed on him as a result of a citing complaint following Leinster’s loss to Toulon at the Stade Mayol.

EPC Rugby confirmed “the Appeal Committee determined that the decision of the independent Judicial Officer at a Disciplinary Hearing on Thursday, December 17th, should be set aside, and Healy is therefore free to play with immediate effect”.

However, the committee decided that the original citing complaint should be reheard at a later date.

Meanwhile, Ulster confirmed Nick Williams will be leaving the province to join the Cardiff Blues at the end of the season ahead of the Pro12 game against Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday (6pm). Craig Gilroy is a definite absentee after suffering a fractured eye socket against Toulouse.

Connacht coach Pat Lam may be in the position of welcoming back eight players ahead of the match as he is optimistic that Ronan Loughney, John Muldoon, James Connolly, Kieran Marmion, AJ MacGinty, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy and Tiernan O'Halloran have all made positive improvements in terms of fitness.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer