JJ Hanrahan helped give outgoing coaches Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber the perfect send-off in Cork last night and then hailed the pair as “two of the best coaches I've ever had”, writes Simon Lewis.
Fly-half Hanrahan kicked a perfect seven conversions as Munster romped to a 49-6 Guinness PRO14 victory over Dragons to leave director of rugby Erasmus and defence coach Nienaber a bonus-point victory as a parting gift as they return to jobs with the South African Rugby Union.
The pair will hand over to incoming head coach Johann Van Graan sometime this month when their fellow South African receives his work permit, but with a break for the international Test window leaving Munster without a game until November 26, Friday night's match was likely to be their last in charge.
Jacques Nienaber happy to sign off his last home game with Munster with a big win at Irish Independent Park tonight #SUAF #MUNvDRA pic.twitter.com/q6g4SZteXp— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 3, 2017
Hanrahan, who re-signed this summer from Northampton Saints and only worked with the South Africans for a few months, will miss them both.
“In my view, Rassie and Jacques are two of the best coaches I’ve had or ever seen in action,” the Kerryman said.
“You read about coaches as players, you hear about them but being in this environment with them was unbelievable.
“I’ve learned so much, I’ve just been like a sponge for the last couple of weeks or months even in the HPC (High Performance Centre) and it’s sad to see them go but it’s a great opportunity for them.
“They’re on to better things where their careers want to go so happy for them and great to get the opportunity.”
Hanrahan's all-round performance against the Dragons earned the 24-year-old man of the match honours at Musgrave Park with his place kicking outstanding, five of his seven shots at goal sent over from close to the touchlines as tries came from Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo, Jack O'Donoghue and Darren Sweetnam to rack up the try bonus point before replacements Sam Arnold, with two, and Kevin O'Byrne notched their first points for the province.
Hanrahan had a hand in several of the tries but his kicking was exemplary and he said: “I’ve been working on that for a long time, so a lot of coaches have gone through and done a lot of work over the years and it finally came good tonight and they are the ones you enjoy.”
It was the sort of performance that could earn Hanrahan an Ireland call-up, although the player in question was having none of that.
“No,” he said at the suggestion. “I’m not worried about any of that kind of stuff. I just want to focus on Munster and it’s step by step for me.”