Johann van Graan has backed Munster to adapt well to yet another change in the province’s management set-up following confirming that Aled Walters is set to leave his post as Head of Athletic Performance.
Welshman Walters will leave in March after six years at Munster, following the recent exodus of director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and defence coach Jaques Nienaber to take up a senior role with the South African Rugby Union.
Erasmus has lured Walters to the camp, leaving Munster and his successor, head coach van Graan with another vacancy to fill before the season’s out.
Nienaber was replaced in late December by another South African, JP Ferreira, who joined from Johannesburg-based Super Rugby outfit the Emirates Lions.
Walters will be returning to the Southern Hemisphere having had stints with the Brumbies in Super Rugby and New Zealand province Taranaki before joining Munster’s strength and conditioning department in 2012. Van Graan wished the outgoing Head of Fitness all the best while promising his players would cope with the “big loss”.
“Aled is definitely going to South Africa, that’s been confirmed. We’ve known about it for a few weeks. I always want to see the positive in life. He’s such a fantastic individual, a big part of Munster, fits in so well with the culture. He drives the players, you’ve just got to look at them physically, a lot of it is up to him.
“But we also want to wish him well. If you get an international opportunity, to work with an international team, you know, if he wants it that’s great for him. He was offered a contract extension at Munster but he wanted to move on and we want him to embrace it and use it to enhance himself.
“He will be a big loss to Munster but we’ll adapt. Luckily this team is very good at adapting and accepting change. Change is one of the only constants in life, there will be change. He’s here until March. We’ll find somebody good (to replace him).
“If you look at the personnel at Munster, you know, Aidan (O’Connell, currently the senior strength and conditioning coach) is almost part of the furniture, he’s a lot older than this HPC (High-Performance Centre), so we’ll just adapt and move on.”
Van Graan laughed off suggestions that he should instruct his staff to block Erasmus’s number from their phones for fear they may also leave for South Africa.
“Look, Rassie is a top, top quality coach. Whatever role he is going for in South Africa he’ll want the best people involved, so he wouldn’t have wanted Aled there if he’s not the very best.
“Rugby is rugby, pro sport is pro sport. I said it right on my first day, we see this as a train, as a journey, there’s a starting point and an end point, some guys will get on and some guys will get off. It’s about Munster and the people working here. We want special people here. If people leave, we wish them well. When people arrive we want the very best for Munster.”
Walters’ role was advertised yesterday. The post is being offered on a 3-year fixed term contract and will be based at the Munster Rugby High-Performance Centre, University of Limerick. Interviews are currently scheduled for next month.
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