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"I'm delighted" - Alan Quinlan on Graham Rowntree's Munster appointment

Alan Quinlan and Niamh Briggs react to Graham Rowntree's appointment on this week's episode of The Red 78.


"I'm delighted" - Alan Quinlan on Graham Rowntree's Munster appointment

Former Munster players Niamh Briggs and Alan Quinlan react to Graham Rowntree's appointment as Munster coach on this week's episode of The Red 78.

David Nucifora and the IRFU can be accused of taking the easy option.

Similar to Andy Farrell succeeding Joe Schmidt, Munster will appoint Graham Rowntree to replace Johann van Graan. The key difference is that Farrell was appointed when Schmidt's team was at its peak. Munster haven't had a peak since van Graan took over. It's been the opposite each season.

But just because it's the easy option doesn't mean it's the wrong option.

Rowntree hasn't been a head coach before. The former England loosehead prop has been an assistant coach and forwards coach at different levels. He coached the British & Irish Lions. He coached Georgia. Rowntree has a wealth of experience as a coach even though Munster is his first head coach job.

Van Graan added Rowntree to his staff in 2019, but as Farrell has proven, just because he coached under van Graan doesn't mean he will follow his style. Munster need to change their approach to building teams and how they play on the field, so Rowntree will need to carve out his own identity.

He may be a former loosehead prop and forwards coach, but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy expansive rugby. That doesn't mean he won't unleash the talent that Munster boast in their backline.

Alan Quinlan believes that Rowntree's time in Munster will serve him well as he transitions into the bigger role. He understands what Munster means to its supporters and he understands what is expected of the Munster team. Furthermore, the players are already familiar with him so the transition will be easier."I'm delighted," Quinlan said.

"I think he's the right man and I'll give you my reasons. We had Billy Holland on here a few weeks previous, and he spoke about all the coaches he's had in his career. The chopping and changing. Graham brings continuity here. He knows the players really well. You can imagine if there's a new coach coming in he's got to get to know everybody.

"Their strengths, their weaknesses, their attitude, their desire."

Evaluating the current Munster squad is vitally important. Plenty of the players can offer more than they have done in recent seasons. Some players will move on and others will be elevated into bigger roles. Rowntree has plenty of big decisions to make ahead of next season.

First and foremost, he has to decide on his staff.

Niamh Briggs believes that the coaching ticket is vital. In today's professional era of rugby, it's important to carry more than just one great coach. Leinster, Ireland and France have proven that in recent seasons. Each of those teams boast assistant coaches who are as important as their head coaches.

Those additions must understand Munster as much as Rowntree does.

"The big question now is who do they bring in around him," Briggs said.

"That's going to be really important. You've got to make sure you surround him with good people and good coaches. But people who understand and get what the environment means to be with Munster. To be involved with Munster. Munster are the type of team that live on the history of the province. They live on that.

"And I think he gets that."

Briggs, Quinlan and David Nucifora are all on board with Rowntree. The English takeover of Irish coaching staffs continues, but will this turn the tide in Limerick? Munster must produce better players and play better rugby than they have recently.

It's important to note that Rowntree signed a two-year deal. He is not locked into a long-term contract, so the prospect of a Ronan O'Gara or Paul O'Connell taking over won't go away anytime soon. Rowntree will be under pressure to get results and quickly change the atmosphere around Thomond Park.


You can listen to The Red 78 with Alan Quinlan and Niamh Briggs every week where all podcasts are available.

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Alan Quinlan Graham Rowntree Ireland Rugby Johann Van Graan Leinster Rugby Munster Munster Rugby Niamh Briggs