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'Are you saying that he's not in communication with Stuart Hooper?'

By Ian Cameron
Munster head coach Johann van Graan (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Brian O’Driscoll has questioned if outgoing Munster head coach Johann van Graan’s continuation at the province until the end of the season is viable.

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Van Graan is heading to troubled Gallagher Premiership side Bath, a side which have won just a single game this season and who – at least according to O’Driscoll – are playing ‘absolute muck’.

The South African masterminded a precious win on the road against Castres in France on Friday night, but calls for his early departure from Limerick have become a familiar refrain in recent weeks.

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Ireland’s most capped player suggests that Van Graan’s position might be untenable. O’Driscoll and the Leinster team of 2005 experienced a parallel situation, with Declan Kidney leaving Dublin to return to his beloved Munster.

On that occasion, Leinster bid Kidney farewell before the end of the season.

“We’ve been in similar situation with Leinster in ’05. It was even worse then. Declan Kidney left us to go back to Munster,” O’Driscoll told the Off the Ball show on Newstalk.

“We had to cut him and bring in a replacement. Someone to hold the reins for the three or four month period toward the end of the season, because when he’s going to one of your adversaries, the element of trust is completely broken.

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“I think there is an element of that with Van Graan. The relationship is a bit broken.”

“He talks about being totally committed to the Munster cause for the remainder of the season. I don’t know how he can actually be 100 oer cent committed.

“Are you saying that he’s not in communication with Stuart Hooper and Bruce Craig over in Bath around the recruitment of new players and how they are going to do things?

“The big part of coaching isn’t just coaching the season that you are involved in. It is future proofing other years.

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“He has got to hit the ground running as well.”

O’Driscoll pointed out that lines of communication and Van Graan’s involvement with recruitment for his new club mean he simply can’t be fully committed to Munster.

“He is going into a good situation over there,” noted O’Driscoll. “They are playing absolute muck this year. They have won their first game of 12 last weekend scraping by with a penalty against the other worst team in the league.

“He is trying to tell everyone that he is fully committed. He might be fully committed when he’s in Munster camp, but you can be sure when he’s at home he’s having conversations around his new gig.

“That is ultimately going to be a major priority of his over this four or five month period. [He will be] making sure that his new bosses are happy and they are in a position where they can grow immediately upon his arrival.”

The former British & Irish Lions centre isn’t the only player to take a pop at the South African, who has also come under the heavy fire in recent weeks from Ronan O’Gara, Keith Wood and Peter Stringer.

O’Gara tore shreds off Munster in his most recent Irish Examiner column. “It was like watching rugby from a bygone era,” the Corkman sI respect every coaching philosophy and if that is the vision of Munster’s management, you admire it to a point, but it must be pretty restrictive to play that kind of way. Munster’s South African ethos is summed up thus: Maul. Box Kick. Aerial Contest. Play if you win it, defend if you don’t…”

Certainly, the pressure is mounting on Van Graan and by definition Munster, over his future at the club.

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