MUNSTER have got their man.
They have appointed Springbok forwards coach Johann Van Graan, 37 as their new head coach after he signed a contract until June 2020.
Van Graan has been involved in the Springboks back-room set-up since 2012 when Heyneke Meyer brought him into the fold. And he was wanted by their new director of rugby Rassie Erasmus when he returns to South Africa in the new year.
Van Graan — along with the rest of the Munster backroom team when Rassie Erasmus leaves — has never held a head coach role before, but many see his move to Munster as another major coup for the province given his international experience.
Van Graan is known for his technical detail and up to last week, Rassie Erasmus said that he would love to have the new Munster coach as part of his Springbok backroom team.
They will get a chance to work together from Mid-November for six weeks during the handover period between Erasmus and Van Graan subject to van Graan getting a work permit.
The timing offers a good window for Erasmus to hand over the roles and share his notes while also providing a few weeks grace before Munster crank back into high gear to recommence their rivalry with Leicester Tigers in December before the Christmas inter-pros.
South Africa have granted van Graan an early exit from his contract to step into his new role, so the Springboks will have a vacancy of their own to fill before Allister Coetzee takes his side to the Aviva Stadium on 11 November to play Ireland. Former Irish hooker Bernard Jackman says that van Graan’s appointment to Munster should be seamless as he and Erasmus would be cut from similar cloth.
“He’s probably not as charming as Rassie, who is very comfortable in front of the media and is a very outgoing personality, but he’s very highly regarded in South African rugby.”
Jackman added on 2FM’s Game On show: “Heyneke (Meyer) put him through a tough process of upskilling. Rassie is quite similar.
“It’s a really good carry-on for Munster to bring on someone who has a similar mindset to Rassie. It means you’re not starting from scratch.
“If you brought in a New Zealand or Australian coach with a very different philosophy, you’d potentially lose the last year and half of progressive work under Erasmus,” said Jackman.