O'Gara the early Munster favourite but bookies' list intrigues
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.
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).
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.
Johann Van Graan will leave his post as Munster coach at the end of the season.
We've priced up who will replace him, with Ronan O'Gara the 8/11 favourite.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) December 14, 2021
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.
JVG is a dedicated man who bought in to the club and has moved it forward in many ways. Had it resulted in trophies? no, is it the right time to go? Probably. But so many players came along during his tenure and hopefully the framework will yield results for the next coach.
— Ed Kidney (@edk86) December 14, 2021
Well this aged badly. Van Graan & Larkham both now leaving Munster at the end of the season… https://t.co/HIBSuKVDaS
— DG (@GlavGlavin) December 14, 2021
However, as Van Graan's statement says, now feels like the right time for both parties to part ways.
Always tough finding top coaches (Munster may well go down the route of hiring a talented assistant again), but reckon both parties will benefit from a fresh start
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) December 14, 2021
Seems like Bath finally getting the coach they always wanted. They will be different gravy under Van Graan.
— David Du P (@wiehanndup) December 14, 2021
Johann van Graan will leave #MunsterRugby at the end of the current season, on completion of his current contract.
Van Graan is the 2nd longest-serving Munster coach of the professional era and led the team to 2 Champions Cup semi-finals, 3 league semi-finals, and a PRO14 final.
— EWN Sport (@EWNsport) December 14, 2021
I wonder if Mike Prendergast would fancy being the main man of a team now. Feels like it is now or never for Racing so could be a good time to leave there.
— Colin McBride (@colin_a_mcbride) December 14, 2021
Munster and Man United have a lot in common this past decade. So hard to maintain any positive momentum
Just off the back of a hugely encouraging win comes the Johann Van Graan departure news
Right replacement is so key. Could finally be the perfect timing for ROG
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) December 14, 2021
Van Graan leaving has left Munster at a crossroads as to where to go next season and beyond, it’ll be interesting to see who gets linked and then eventually who gets the job but whoever does is inheriting a hugely talented squad.
— The Breakdown (@TheBreakdown0) December 14, 2021
"The IRFU wish Johann well in his future career and know he will continue to give everything to Munster for the remainder of the season."
IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has thanked Johann van Graan for his contribution to Irish Rugby ?#ShoulderToShoulder
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) December 14, 2021
I think it's reasonable to expect at least three new faces in the coaching team next season as JVG and Ferriera did arrive as a package.
I said it at the time but the contracts should have been decided and signed in the summer because going looking someone now isn't good.
— Overthehillprop (@Overthehillprop) December 14, 2021
So Johann Van Grann decides to leave #Munster. All I say is good luck and Goodbye. As long as Irish sides hire overseas coaches especially from the Southern Hemisphere that’s always a danger. Can Munster get an Irish coaching ticket? #johannvangraan
— Diarmuid (@DD2705) December 14, 2021
Personally think Munster should look at getting some of the wild geese back. Not to say RoG as i suspect unless there is an explicit out, it would cost IRFU & Munster too much.
But Munster should stop being used as a CV enhancement tool (& this from blue tinted glasses)
— Richard Collumb ????? ?? (@collumbo) December 14, 2021
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