Rowntree remains silent on Munster’s future coaching plans

Graham Rowntree has again been hesitant about suggestions that he will be lining up to replace Johann van Graan as Munster’s head coach at the end of the season.

The county forward coach will remain in Limerick for at least two more seasons after agreeing to extend his current role earlier this month.

However, with the departure of head coach Van Graan this summer, Rowntree is also mentioned as a possible successor to the South African.

When signing his new contract on January 4, the Englishman said the rumors that he would become head coach were “one day for another”.

Three weeks later, he was still holding his cards close to his chest when asked if he was on the list to be promoted to the top position.

“A lawsuit is underway and my position has not changed,” the 50-year-old told RTÉ Sport this afternoon.

“Like I said three weeks ago, she… [Munster and the IRFU] know my ambitions, nothing has changed since then. There is nothing more to say today.”

Munster returns to United Rugby Championship action this Saturday when they take on the winless Zebre . to travel [live on RTÉ2].

With nine players gone on international duty with Ireland and Damian de Allende, Niall Scannell and Jason Jenkins all injured, the county is expected to give playing time to some of the younger players on their squad, with Rowntree representing some of their academy stars who played against Wasps get another chance to impress in December.

“Another great opportunity for these young guys, it will be mostly young guys coming in and they didn’t let us down when we brought them in.

“We have some nice combinations planned in terms of young guys and guys who are already a bit round.”

Munster is also expected to give more playing time to tightheads Roman Salanoa and Keynan Knox in the coming weeks.

Recent reports suggest veteran tighthead John Ryan will leave the province at the end of the campaign, which could expose either Salanoa or Knox (below) to a bigger role on the team next season.

And while Rowntree didn’t comment on Ryan’s potential departure, he says they have big plans for their two young props.

“Roman played for Shannon in the AIL, he just needs some playing time. Knoxy has been in and out of the group for the last block, they are very close.

“Both have a huge future at the club, I have huge plans for them. Young, dynamic, big and with a great attitude. It’s a pleasure to coach them and they will appear in the coming weeks,” he added.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Munster’s postponed URC Interpro against Leinster will now be played on the last weekend of the regular season (20/21/22 May).

The sides were set to meet on St Stephen’s Day before a Covid outbreak in the Leinster camp resulted in the match being postponed.

And the URC has been able to avoid rescheduling the game during the Six Nations, when both provinces would run out of international players.

Munster and Leinster were scheduled to play against Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively on the final weekend of the regular season, but with the Scottish pair’s own Christmas derbies having to move, the league has been able to swap those matches.

Leinster v Edinburgh and Glasgow v Munster now both take place on Friday 11th February.

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