"He was going to coach Ireland" - Eddie O'Sullivan on the late Anthony Foley

O'Sullivan coached Foley at international level for Ireland

BY Daniel Kelly 16:45 Sunday 16 October 2016, 16:45 16 Oct 2016

Anthony Foley Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Anthony Foley played 62 times for Ireland. 36 of those games came under the stewardship of Eddie O'Sullivan.

Following the tragic news of Foley's death, O'Sullivan spoke to Off the Ball about what the Clare number eight brought to the game.

"What he brought was a phenomenal rugby brain to the game. It wasn't just his ability to play. He had a great skill set... He knew that nuance that keeps teams on track and steers them to victory."

O'Sullivan was not surprised when Foley became a coach. He led the team for two years from 2014 to last summer. He remained as the province's head coach under Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.

"An innate rugby brain he had. It was a no-brainer that he would end up in coaching almost immediately. His head was wired for rugby. He was always going to be a rugby coach when he finished up playing."

"He inherited a difficult job. Munster are in transition still. He wasn't the most experienced coach, but that wasn't a fault. He soldiered on there for two years. He had to then take it on the chin when there was a change made around the management of the team. You can see there the dignity of the guy, and the commitment to Munster."

Foley spent some time in the international set-up under Declan Kidney, and O'Sullivan told Off the Ball that he expected Foley would eventually become Ireland's head coach.

"I've no doubt in my mind, that he was going to take on Munster again a few years down the track... He was going to coach Ireland, I've no doubt about that. From a rugby point of view, it's a dreadful loss to Irish rugby."

"For me, as someone who coached him, Anthony wasn't the guy who spoke a lot. He kept conversations to a minimum. You said something to him and he just nodded... Once he nodded and said he said "I have it", you walked away comfortable in the knowledge it was going to be done."

The 42-year-old captained Munster to their first Heineken Cup in 2006, beating Biarritz in the final in Cardiff. O'Sullivan concluded that it was what Foley will be best remembered for.

"It was fitting he lifted the Heineken Cup... The fact we are talking about him in the past tense is just shocking."

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