Erasmus clears air on Jaco Taute deal

Rassie Erasmus yesterday insisted a six month extension of Jaco Taute’s contract has still not been agreed between Munster, the IRFU and Western Province. The deal must be struck by midnight on Saturday, but it looks a near certainty to be completed.

Erasmus clears air on Jaco Taute deal

Erasmus is delighted at the likely outcome given Darren Sweetnam is set to be sidelined for at least three weeks following the knee injury when late tackled by Zane Kirchner in Monday’s win over Leinster, and there is also a doubt concerning an elbow knock sustained by Andrew Conway. “We will probably have some clarity about Darren on Monday or Tuesday”, said Erasmus. “I’m not sure how long it will be but it will be a while although I don’t think it’s a horrible injury. He’ll handle it. He’s a tough guy and will come back better. He’s been unbelievable, I think he featured in every game and every training session. As for the challenge that caused the injury, I’d rather leave it, it makes no difference now”.

Erasmus also stated he would say so if the Taute situation had been confirmed and wouldn’t be drawn into some newspaper suggestions “rules were being bent” to accommodate the three-times capped Springbok.

“As I said last time, I’m discussing it with the IRFU and obviously the Western Province are party to the whole thing”, he said.

“We’re trying to find a solution. He’s supposed to go back on the 31st. We just said Happy New Year today! We’ve got a few days to finalise it. We really have some bad injuries now. Darren Sweetnam is out for a while. Then Alex Wootton and Bill Johnston, we lost them for a while.

“The nice thing about Jaco is that he’s played full-back at provincial (level) and actually was in Springbok camps as a fullback. He’s got 90 plus games in the back three so that would help us if he could stay on and I think we’ll find a way. But it’s not done yet.”

Erasmus remained non-committal about reports Ulster and Leinster would not be happy at Munster being able to call on two overseas centres, Taute and Francis Saili, in their squad whereas other provinces (and especially Ulster who are extremely displeased at having to release Ruan Pienaar at the end of the season) are not in a similar situation.

“I wouldn’t know the other specific cases and how they’re being treated”, he said. “It’s for us, injury cover, which we’ve used and now we have some more injuries in the back three. It would be very stupid for me to comment on what the other guys do because I’ve only been here for four months. And as I say we still have to sort out a few things before that’s a definite.”

Should he not feel Munster are getting special treatment?

“We got an injury, we got a stand-in and now we’ve got some more injuries so that’s how our one has been presented”, he stressed.

Jaco Taute
Jaco Taute

“I think it’s a very valid reason to try and do that. We’ve tried guys like Collie O’Shea, Angus (Lloyd), Steve Crosbie (all Irish). There are a lot of instances where we could have tried and gone outside but we preferred to try Irish guys and that’s always been our first port of call”.

Ireland front line players like Simon Zebo, Conor Muray, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O’Mahony and C J Stander will almost certainly miss tomorrow’s game at the Sportsground but Keith Earls is likely to return. Erasmus obviously has one eye on the three successive European Cup matches looming in the new year and the importance of managing the players with not just Munster games but also the Six Nations coming immediately afterwards.

He reasoned:

“We’re not an established squad where we know ‘in this four weeks we’re going to rest this guy and we’re going to rest that guy.’ We’d like to build a squad over the years where we’re nice and comfortable.

“You look at Saracens and teams like that where they’ve built squads so that they can do that. We have to juggle a little bit and press a player a game or two more than we would have liked to but that’s where we are currently”.

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