Munster boss Tony McGahan is in no doubt Anthony Foley is capable of succeeding him at the provincial helm when he quits at the end of the season.
McGahan will return to his native Australia in June to take up a post as the Wallabies and Australian Rugby Union’s coaching coordinator and while he will have only an informal role in assisting Munster Rugby to choose his successor, he believes current forwards coach Foley is ready for a job McGahan describes as “enjoyable, in a sadistic sort of way”.
“Anthony’s proving himself as a leader after captaining Munster for a long period of time and very successfully,” McGahan said. “He’s built excellent relationships with the staff and the players as it is and he has the capabilities of doing the role, I don’t think there’s any doubt to that.”
McGahan pointed to Foley’s development as a coach with Munster since retiring as a player in 2008, from assisting with and then head coaching both the U20 and A sides, through to assistant forwards coach, then defence to his present role.
“A lot of it has been well documented but Anthony in the role that’s been provided for him the last four years with regard to coming into professional coaching, there’s always been a plan in place with his involvement,” McGahan said.
“So he’s gathering experience along the way. There’s many different elements you need to do this job, not only the tactical awareness but it’s a big organisation with 46 players, 20 full-time staff and three or four consultants, let alone the outside stakeholders with regard to media, supporters’ expectation etc.”
Of McGahan’s role in the selection of his successor, the Australian said: “I’m sure I’ll be asked my opinion on some of the expectations of the job and some of the advantages of the job and the challenges the new applicant will face and give some insight into what sort of skills would be required.
“You’re always conscious of providing the next person coming in the best opportunity to be successful. Whilst I won’t have a formal position in that, informally I’m sure that I’ll be involved in some capacity.”
McGahan also spoke of the pressures of coaching Munster when expectations are so high.
“It’s enjoyable in a sadistic sort of way. It also has its moments but [Heineken Cup success] is the ultimate, that’s why you do it. You also need to be realistic about where that happens. There’s only one Heineken Cup trophy given out every year. Some clubs have never had the opportunity to get through the group stages.
“I suppose when you’ve been involved with winning it, it’s that lure to get back to that position and be standing there at the end of the season, knowing that you’ve not only conquered Europe but a lot of obstacles along the way.
“It’s exceptionally difficult to get back to that stage, let alone get back on the winner’s podium. You have to look at salary caps, players’ injury profiles, having the right mix of players, experience and technical nous and bits of luck along the way.
“There’s so many things go into that to get it done but the pressure is one that is a huge attraction to the job.”
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