What can Munster expect as Johann van Graan takes the reins?

Craig Ray of the Sunday Times in South Africa

BY Raf Diallo 15:00 Friday 13 October 2017, 15:00 13 Oct 2017

South Africa's assistant coach Johann Van Graan during the Captain's Run at Twickenham Stadium, London. Adam Davy/PA Archive/PA Images

For a number of months, speculation had swirled about the identity of Munster's next head coach.

With director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus set to return to South Africa, a successor was needed and it's to the land of the Springboks that Munster have found that person in the shape of Johann van Graan, who has been part of the South African national team setup for the last five years.

But who is van Graan and what can we expect from the newcomer to Irish rugby?

Craig Ray of The Sunday Times in South Africa joined us to answer some of the questions about Van Graan. 

"It's an interesting one because he's been around the system for a long time but he's always been in the shadows. He's one of those guys who does a lot of work behind the scenes but never been front and centre," Ray explained, before isolating the specific things that Van Graan has worked on as part of the South Africa set up and with the Bulls especially tactically and with set pieces like the line out.

"The Springbok line out when Victor Matfield was dominating the air was probably the best line out in world rugby and so was the Bulls and Van Graan is the man who's had a lot of input in developing line out and line out attacks specifically, so I think that's one area of the game where he has excelled," he said, adding that "in his little micro area of the game, they've been pretty good" in regards to a South Africa at a low ebb overall.

Ray also described him as "very hands on" in the way he works on the training field and that stylistically bears similarities with Erasmus in terms of an emphasis on opposition analysis for example.

"What he doesn't have is the experience of Erasmus. He's not been front and centre, he's not been exposed to the kind of media attention that will come with this job and other high profile jobs and I think that's one area of his personality that will have to develop a little bit," he said.

"He's very good when he has to do the odd bit of media in terms of preparing himself with stats and figures to answer questions but it's one thing when you're coming in as the assistant coach. But when you're the head coach and you have to deal with every issue at the club, you can't come into a media conference with one specific line in mind. You're going to have to deal with a lot of things, so he's going to have to develop that side of it."  


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