Adding Mike Prendergast to Munster coaching staff makes all kinds of sense
"Have you not heard?"
Riding high from his prediction that Denis Leamy was in line for a coaching return to Munster, Darren Cave doubled down on another provincial old boy - Mike Prendergast.
The former Munster scrumhalf has been coaching over in France for the past decade, and has held posts with Grenoble, Oyonnax, Stade Francais, and Racing 92, his current club.
"I broke the news last week," declared Cave, "Mike Prendergast." That was before he added that he was 'just throwing a few names about'. The former Ulster and Ireland centre is not too far off the mark. Word, from our sources, is Prendergast is definitely in the mix for the backs/attach coach job.
UPDATE: Mike Prendergast to Munster as attack coach, on a three-year contract, has been confirmed by the province. The Limerick native will join head coach Graham Rowntree from Racing 92, this summer.
On the latest House of Rugby URC episode [LISTEN from 21:45 below], Munster centre Rory Scannell joined Greg O'Shea, Lindsay Peat and Darren Cave to discuss the Graham Rowntree appointment, and the upcoming Champions Cup clash with Toulouse.
Better right now than never
Should Munster be able to get Denis Leamy back from Leinster, on a coaching brief, to join Mike Prendergast, Graham Rowntree will be well on the way to putting together a solid unit.
The big question with Prendergast and Munster is, why has he not been brought back sooner?
The 44-year-old was Director of Rugby at Young Munster when Bernard Jackman brought him over to Grenoble. Immediately, one could see the impact the personable, passionate Limerick man was making. He brought on the game of Chris Farrell [now at Munster] massively, as well as young outhalf James Hart and got the best out of the seasoned South African, Gio Aplon.
Oyonnax and Stade Francais saw him adding more to his coaching brief, but he only did a season with each club before Racing 92 came calling. He worked with Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo during their playing time in Paris and his backline, featuring the likes of Teddy Thomas, Juan Imhoff and Finn Russell, is one of the most potent, and exciting, in Europe.
Those that have worked with Prendergast that we have spoke to, including Hart, Farrell, Zebo and Russell, are very high on the man, his attention to detail and the way he tailors plays to strengths of individuals, as well as the team. Ronan O'Gara also rates him highly but stated, in his Examiner column, that his focus right now is with Racing.
Racing are currently fourth in the Top 14 standings and have a home Champions Cup quarter final against Sale Sharks, this weekend, having reached the final in 2020 and the quarters, last season.
'We haven't heard any whispers, or names'
Rory Scannell has played under Anthony Foley, Rassie Erasmus and Johann van Graan, as Munster head coaches, and he will get a fourth, next season, when Graham Rowntree takes up the role.
Asked by Greg O'Shea what the past few months, since van Graan let it be known he was leaving in the summer, has been like. Scannell said:
"To be honest, it's probably the first time I've been with the club where the coaches are changing and we haven't heard any whispers, or names about the place. We knew that Johann was leaving at the end of the season, but nothing has really changed from our side. At least we have a bit of clarity now, with Graham coming in."
On a possible change of playing style, and how it may affect players, Scannell says the squad are alive to that and will fully embrace it, once this season wraps. The change from Erasmus to van Graan was not too seismic, and it remains to be seen what Rowntree will want when he has firm grip of the reigns.
Scannell feels Rowntree can bring a fresh perspective and even 'a different set of eyes' with new coaching appointments, but hopes there will be some local faces in the set-up.
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY HERE: