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Published: 10:27 | 14/11/17

Erasmus backs van Graan to build on Foley foundations

Rassie Erasmus believes new Munster head coach Johann van Graan will build on the foundations set by the late Anthony Foley.

South Africa's forward coach van Graan, 37, has agreed a two-and-a-half year deal to become Munster's new head coach, replacing Erasmus, who will take over as the Springboks' Director of Rugby in December.

Munster appointed Erasmus as the club's director of rugby in July 2016, but the South African became de facto head coach in October 2016 following the death of Foley.

And Erasmus, who will leave his job with Munster this week after a brief handover period working with van Graan, says the players will appreciate working with a specialist coach again.

"I was in a director of rugby role since 2011, but after Anthony Foley's death I was head coach and I'm not good at that, to be honest with you," he told RTE's Against the Head.

"I'm more an overview, strategic guy, so that's why I'm happy it's Johan van Graan coming in. 

"He's that kind of guy, he's the Axel-kind of guy. He'll go and set a challenge, work on individual things with players, ask: 'what’s wrong at home?'.

"I think the players missed that. Munster need a head coach and he's a very good fit.

"In all the teams he's been at, he's taken over, he's got that personal touch. Wherever he goes he gets into guys' hearts. He knows the game well, so he's not afraid to sit and talk to a player about their game."

Just months after Foley's death, Munster reached the Champions Cup semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Saracens, and the Pro 12 final, where they were beaten 46-22 by Scarlets. 

Erasmus says Munster were running on empty in the Pro 12 final, and spent the summer "building a squad to compete in two competitions" by bringing in new faces like Chris Farrell and James Hart.

"What Munster are doing now is chopping and changing, feeling everyone out, we're not getting the best team out every week as we did last year," he said.

"When we got to the Pro12 final we were punch-drunk, [athough] that's not to say Scarlets weren't the best team on the day.

"We're trying to build a squad to compete in both competitions. Last year with our squad we couldn't win both.

"We're not hitting our straps yet, because we're chopping and changing, building the squad."

eir Sport is the home of international rugby in November. On 18 November, eir Sport subscribers can watch Italy against Argentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence [kick off 2pm, eir Sport 2], followed by Scotland versus world champions New Zealand at Murrayfield [kick off 5.15pm, BT Sport 2], and then round off a super Saturday of Test match rugby with France v South Africa at the Stade de France [kick off 8pm, eir Sport 2]

Photo Inpho/ Dan Sheridan

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