Erasmus says Wessels is ‘one of the good fits’ for Munster job

Rassie Erasmus has endorsed potential Munster successor Dave Wessels as “one of the good fits” to replace him as director of rugby.

Erasmus is set to return to his native South Africa as soon as a replacement can be found following his decision to leave Munster, less than halfway through his three-year contract.

Defence coaching specialist Wessels, 36, was a consultant analyst under Erasmus at Super Rugby’s Stormers and went on, via the Brumbies, to become head coach of Western Force.

The decision this summer to axe the Perth-based franchise has left the South African without a post and he had reportedly been lined up to replace Tony McGahan at the Melbourne Rebels before Munster’s interest was made known last week.

Asked yesterday whether he thought Wessels would be a good fit for Munster’s top job, Erasmus replied: “There are so many guys who would be good fits because lots of guys want to be at this club. I can vouch for his character and his work ethic.

“But I don’t know with whom he is actually competing at the end. There might be great characters as well, but he would be one of the good fits.”

Munster were reported as being prepared to fly Wessels into Ireland this week to secure his services but while Erasmus said he was unaware of any negotiations he confirmed yesterday that he had been consulted by the province about the suitability of his friend and compatriot.

“I know his name has been linked, even back in July, I heard his name mentioned,” Erasmus said.

“Obviously the guys have asked my opinion about him and that is my involvement, just an opinion. I am not involved any further.

“I know him really well. He was defence coach at the Brumbies, head coach at the Force.

“He is an intelligent guy, I can vouch for his character. I don’t know how far along the line it is... I think he is one of a few good candidates. I’m not sure how close they are to really finalising that, but he is one of the good options.

“He came into the mix at first as a consultant analyst. He is a very intelligent guy when it comes to tricky situations, stats and those kinds of things. That is the way he got into the game with us at the Stormers.

“Then he went on to coach a local varsity team and then he got into defence specifically. I know then he went to help Jake White at the Brumbies as a ‘D’ coach and then to the Force, but I’m not sure in what capacity. Eventually he became head coach there, but yes he started with us at the Stormers.”

Erasmus did not see Wessel’s age as a barrier, pointing out that Munster’s backs coach Felix Jones is still only 30.

“It’s six years older than Felix. I think the game is going that way where it is rapidly changing laws wise. There are so many things that happened two years ago that are not relevant anymore and I think coaches are becoming younger.

“It is young, but I think there is a trend like that, guys currently coaching the Cheetahs and teams like that are all fairly young in a South African context.”

Erasmus has begun preparing his squad for Friday’s trip to Guinness PRO14 rivals Glasgow as Munster bid to continue their winning start to the league campaign. It will be a second road trip in six days following the Reds’ 21-16 win at Ospreys, and Erasmus was presented with a clean bill of health following Saturday’s win.

Loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne suffered a knee injury against the Cheetahs eight days ago but underwent a scan last week that indicated the injury was not as bad as first feared. Kilcoyne will continue to be monitored during the week but his positional rival James Cronin suffered no adverse reaction to his knee injury following a return to action off the bench in Wales.

There was further good news for Munster with a resumption of full training yesterday for fly-half JJ Hanrahan (shoulder), hooker Duncan Casey (groin) and Sam Arnold (calf).

Erasmus said Hanrahan was available for his second Munster debut since re-signing from Northampton but may be eased back in with club side UL Bohemians this weekend.

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