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O'Gara the early Munster favourite but bookies' list intrigues

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

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Ronan O’Gara has emerged as the early favourite with the bookies to fill the vacancy at Munster after Johann van Grann handed in his notice on Tuesday rather than accept the two-year contract extension he had been offered by the Irish province.  

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Having arrived in November 2017 as the successor to Rassie Erasmus, van Graan felt five seasons was enough for him at the club and he is now tipped for a move to Bath, the Gallagher Premiership team he was originally linked with in 2016 after he finished up as a Springboks assistant.    

The big question is who will Munster now turn to and O’Gara, their two-time Heineken Cup winner as an out-half, had been identified by Paddy Power bookmakers as the 8/11 favourite in a list of possible candidates that is as long as your arm. Others to feature in the market are Ireland assistant Paul O’Connell (6/4), Munster assistant Graham Rowntree (4/1) and Racing assistant Mike Prendergast (7/1). 

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How Munster handled their recent URC South African misadventure
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How Munster handled their recent URC South African misadventure

The list, though, gets very interesting further down with Crusaders boss Scott Robertson at 10/1 while senior Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster is at 25/1 along with Michael Cheika, the 2009 Heineken Cup-winning coach who burst Munster’s bubble in the famous Croke Park semi-final that year. Current Leinster boss Leo Cullen is also included.   

O’Gara has long been linked with a prodigal son type return to Munster but he has regularly spoken about how he is still only earning his stripes in a coaching career that started out at Racing before his work under Robertson at the Crusaders was followed by a return to France where he is in his first season in sole charge at La Rochelle having initially worked there under Jono Gibbes.  

The general social media reaction to van Graan’s confirmed June 2022 exit has been supportive with numerous fans wishing the South African well. His departure is the second announced by the club in recent weeks as attack coach Stephen Larkham also rebuffed a contract extension, the Australian instead deciding to take up a head coach offer at the Brumbies.  

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