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Erasmus casts doubts on Johann van Graan’s Munster role

Outgoing rugby director wary Springboks forwards coach won’t be allowed take job

Johann van Graan is due to take over as Munster’s new director of rugby. Photograph: Getty Images

Munster 39 Cardiff Blues 16

All along Rassie Erasmus has insisted he has no influence on Munster’s search for his replacement, and perhaps that’s in the province’s best interest as their director of rugby cast doubts over the availability of Springboks forwards coach, Johann van Graan, to replace him.

Van Graan could yet be named as Erasmus’s replacement at Munster once the Rugby Championship concludes next week, but Erasmus – who could potentially be his boss in the South African set-up – insisted he wants to work alongside him in the Springboks’ set-up and said he doubts if South African rugby would release him to Munster.

Erasmus is certainly in a difficult position: he has stated he won’t take over as South African director of rugby until his replacement is in position; he wants Munster to find the best candidate for the job; he knows the Munster role is a great opportunity for van Graan; but he wants to retain his services to ensure the strongest possible team is in place for the Springboks.

Tug-of-war

Throw in the agitated response from South African head coach Allister Coetzee to van Graan questions after their draw with Australia – “He is a contracted assistant coach to SA Rugby and they are the facts. What Munster say is hearsay” – and you get a glimpse at the potential tug-of-war over his services.

“He is someone that I would like to work with, with the Springboks,” said Erasmus. “I’m not working there yet and to be honest with you, I don’t even have contact with the guys who are currently there because they are in the middle of the Rugby Championship and then they are going on their European tour. I’m not involved at all at this stage.

“What Munster are doing for me and giving me the opportunity to go back and work at that level – if a person’s dream is to come to Munster and become a head coach, which is a fantastic job and it’s a job where it maybe takes you to the next level. If that’s something that will make the club better and that person better, it would be stupid to stand in his way because he’s a young guy.

“In that regard I understand it, but I also understand the big role he plays in the Springboks set-up. Luckily, it’s not my decision because I wouldn’t know what to do.”

Whoever is the next man to take charge of Munster will inherit an attractive package, as displayed by their second-half dismantling of Cardiff at the weekend.

Celebrated

JJ Hanrahan celebrated his return to the red shirt with two tries after his introduction, but they did well to park a poor opening half where they trailed 16-13 at the break, as Conor Murray’s 13th-minute try was added to by scores from John Ryan, Hanrahan and Robin Copeland.

With Murray, CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony returning for the first time since their Lions summer tour as well as nine total changes to their starting 15, there was understandably some rustiness early on and Blues took advantage thanks to three Jarrod Evans penalties and Josh Turnbull’s try to lead at the break.

But their hopes of a second win of the season nosedived when tighthead prop Taufa’ao Filise was sin-binned early in the second-half following a lengthy scrummaging session. Crucially with the prop on the sidelines Munster ran in tries from Ryan and Hanrahan to take the game away from their visitors.

The bad news surrounds the long-term fitness of Jaco Taute, following the knee injury the centre sustained in the opening period when tackling Cardiff number eight Nick Williams. It looks like a few months on the sidelines is ahead of the South African.

Munster scorers:

Tries: C Murray, J Ryan, JJ Hanrahan (2), R Copeland

Conversions: I Keatley (4)

Penalties: I Keatley (2)

Cardiff Blues scorers:

Tries: J Turnbull

Conversions: J Evans

Penalties: J Evans (3)

Munster: A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; R Copeland, B Holland; P O’Mahony (c), T O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: C Farrell for Taute (20 mins), JJ Hanrahan for Conway (54 mins), R Marshall for N Scannell (57 mins), S Archer for Ryan (61 mins), M Flanagan for Copeland (70 mins), L O’Connor for Kilcoyne (72 mins), D Williams for Murray (73 mins), S McCarthy for O’Mahony (74 mins).

Cardiff: R Williams; B Scully (c), J Roberts, W Halaholo, T James; J Evans, T Williams; B Thyer, M Rees, T Filise; G Earle, J Down; J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams.

Replacements: S Shingler for Roberts (16 mins), K Assiratti for James (49-58 mins) and Filise (58 mins), E Lewis for Rees (61 mins), M Morgan for R Williams (61 mins), M Cook for N Williams (61 mins), S Davies for Earle (64 mins), C Domachowski for Thyer (70 mins), L Williams for T Williams (71 mins).

Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU).

Attendance: 13,558