Prendergast says time is right for Foley to step up to top job

Anthony Foley: Has earned his stripes with Munster and Ireland.

Mike Prendergast believes Anthony Foley is the right man to take over from Rob Penney as Munster coach.

The Grenoble’s skills coach, a former Munster scrum-half and who also spent time with Bourgoin and Gloucester, says there is no reason to look abroad as Foley fits the bill perfectly.

Prendergast sees Penney’s departure as an opportunity to finally give home-grown coaches an opportunity.

“Yes, honestly I think the time is right. The provinces up to now have generally been directed by foreign coaches and I have no problem with that in general, but I think this position is different now.

“Over the last number of years a lot of foreign coaches have been coming in and players would have learned from that.

“However, I think the time is ripe for one of the Irish provinces to opt for an Irish coach. If you look at Axel Foley and Ian Costello, there are things in their favour, they’re in the environment at the moment, have been in there for the last four or five seasons, have coached Munster 20s, Munster A and they were part of the coaching set-up for the last number of years.

“The main job would be right for Axel; he knows the environment, the tradition, the history; a lot of those young players he coached have stepped up to the plate. He’s been involved with them for a long time, has seen them develop, and now would be the right time for Axel.”

Prendergast admitted big names were certain to come into the equation: “I’m sure there will be loads of names out there and it will be for a number of weeks before a decision is made. But I would like to see Irish coaches coming through, these guys have done their coaching badges and I think they have earned their stripes, so I think genuinely that Axel would be a good option.

“What should be remembered is that Anthony has also coached at international level, and not many club coaches have that on their CV. He knows the structures, knows the systems, knows the players, from schools level, through to the AIL, to Academy and then on to senior level.

“The time is right for him, the last two years working under Rob Penney has been a good learning curve; he’s been through Tony McGahan, Laurie Fisher, Gert Smal, Less Kiss and Declan Kidney, all class coaches.

Prendergast also praised Costello for the work he has done in Munster. “Ian has great experience, a huge work ethic and a very good knowledge of the game. He and Foley have been a huge influence in the development of a lot of young players in the province. Guys like Simon Zebo and Conor Murphy would be just a few but there’s a lot more.”

Prendergast is enjoying his coaching career in France for now, but would like to return some day.

“I was lucky to spend four years with Young Munster and spend time with Munster A, but the thing for me is that there are only four provinces to work with in Ireland, there are only so many positions; unfortunately there wasn’t anything for me in a full time role for the last season or two and I got an opportunity to gain experience as a coach outside Ireland, so I took it.”

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