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Bath target van Graan has handed in his notice to quit Munster

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Munster boss Johann van Graan has decided not to stay with the Irish province beyond the end of his current contract, the South African instead confirming he will leave the club in June 2022 with Bath a potential destination after he was last week linked with joining the Gallagher Premiership strugglers. The Irish province was keen on keeping van Graan on beyond his current deal but the fact that no agreement had yet been reached on that two-year offer led to speculation emerging that his future could be elsewhere, namely at Bath.   

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Van Graan refused to add fuel to the fire last week ahead of the Champions Cup round one trip to Wasps, stating at his midweek media briefing: “In terms of my own future, as I have stated earlier in the season, I’m never going to get into any contract discussions or speculation over the media. So until there is a decision about my future, I’m not going to speculate anything.”

Bath had originally courted van Graan in 2016 but nothing came of that link back then as the English club instead appointed Todd Blackadder to succeed Mike Ford. Stuart Hooper has since taken over at The Rec but his team are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premiership with nine successive defeats this season and were hammered last Saturday by Leinster in Europe.

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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan on their URC South African misadventure
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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan on their URC South African misadventure

This worsening Bath situation was followed the next day by Munster impressively winning at Wasps and van Grann has now confirmed that this indeed will be his last season in Ireland. “While I was at advanced stages in the contract process earlier this year, I took a step back and reconsidered my options, prioritising what is best for my family, myself and Munster,” he explained. 

“My family and I settled well into life here, this is our home and in an ideal world we would love to continue living in Limerick, but I have been looking at the bigger picture. After arriving during the 2017/18 season, I am now into my fifth season with this group and in putting Munster first I believe it’s the right decision for me to call time on my contribution and step away at the end of this season.

“While we have achieved so much together, and still have over six months of the season remaining, I wanted any uncertainty about my future addressed as early as possible. Working with this coaching team, staff, and players we are always striving to do our best for Munster, and nothing will change on that front. It has been an incredible journey and I am hugely proud of this group for everything we have done to date knowing there is so much more to come as we move towards the business end of the season.”

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Munster CEO Ian Flanagan added: “We will be disappointed to see Johann go at the end of the season, he will be widely missed after forming such close relationships across the organisation. Johann has been a valued addition to the province and integral to all the successes we have achieved over the past four years. His hands-on approach and tireless work ethic have ensured the structures are well in place for continued success and we know he will continue to deliver on all fronts for the remainder of the season.

“For now, we are working closely with the IRFU in looking to identify suitable replacements with the confirmed departures of both Johann and Steve (Stephen Larkham) next summer.” Ex-Wallabies out-half Larkham last month confirmed he too wasn’t taking up an extension offer and would instead return home to take charge at the Brumbies.

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