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Munster fuel dream team speculation


Van Graan has fuelled speculation that Munster's dream coaching team could sometime become a reality

Having secured his own future at Munster with last week’s contract extension taking him through to 2022, Johann van Grann has now fuelled speculation that Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara, the pair who lifted the trophy when the club last won the European Cup in 2008, could potentially come on board his management ticket.

Van Grann is hoping to soon tie down deals for current assistants, namely Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones, the former Ireland duo, along with defence coach JP Ferreira.

However, in the run-up to this Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final versus Saracens in Coventry, the South African let slip he wouldn’t be allergic to working with O’Connell and O’Gara, former players who have been earning their coaching stripes outside of Ireland.

O’Connell is due to leave Stade Francais at the end of the Top 14 season while O’Gara’s current contract at the Super Rugby Crusaders runs out at the end of their season.

“We’ve first got to sort out the guys that we currently have,” Van Graan told Irish TV channel, Virgin Media Sport. “We as a coaching group are working very well together and obviously I came in mid-season last season and we got through last season, did all of our planning, and I’m really enjoying it.

“Everyone else is really enjoying it. We’re always open to adding some additional personnel. We’ll finish the year first and then make our decisions after.

“Nothing’s ever impossible. Paulie is doing some great work with Stade Français and he’s finishing up. ROG has been absolutely fantastic at Crusaders and he’s possibly the most sought-after coach in the world, if I’m not mistaken.

Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara jointly lifted the trophy after Munster’s 2008 Heineken Cup win over Toulouse (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“I’ve been in constant contact with them, but there’s a lot of quality coaches all over the world and we’ll do what’s the best for Munster.

“Look, they’re fantastic people and fantastic coaches. We’re all on different journeys in our coaching paths, so I wouldn’t say yes or no to that. We’ll see what the future holds.”

The O’Connell link is interesting. While O’Gara is publicly keen on staying in the game and recently held unsuccessful talks about freelancing for France at the World Cup, O’Connell’s departure from Stade just one year into a two-year deal was followed by a statement that he wouldn’t coach anywhere else next season.

“I have decided not to stay beyond my contract year with the club and do not plan to join another club next season either,” said O’Connell.

“I had a great adventure at the Stade Francais. I am grateful to the club for the opportunity they gave me to live and work in Paris. I was delighted to be able to work alongside Heyneke Meyer, the staff and all the club’s players.”

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Van Graan has fuelled speculation that Munster's dream coaching team could sometime become a reality