Springbok great Victor Matfield has come out in defence of Munster coach Johann van Graan in the wake of widespread criticism against him in Irish rugby circles.
Van Graan took over at Munster following the departure of Rassie Erasmus in 2017 and has helped maintain the Limerick outfit’s status amongst the European elite, despite a lack of silverware.
It has since been confirmed that the South African has opted against a contract renewal at the club, and is set to join Bath in the English Premiership at the end of the season.
But with the poor quality of rugby Munster are playing at the moment, Ireland legends such as Keith Wood and Peter Stringer are among several calling for him to exit sooner.
Speaking on SuperSport, Matfield has thrown his support behind Van Graan, who he describes as “one of the great young coaches in South Africa” and someone who will again be part of the Springboks set-up in the future.
“He’s grown a lot and I think he’s one of the great young coaches in South Africa that will come back at some stage and hopefully coach the Springboks,” Matfield said.
“I spoke to Johann van Graan and, for him, it’s very difficult.
“Look, he feels bad because he really enjoyed his time at Munster. He loves the people there. But he said it’s very difficult, he said all the great players go to Leinster.
“So, he has to compete (with Leinster), he comes second in every competition but he doesn’t win trophies. Leinster have got this amazing team. And again, financially, he’s trying to (sign) the guys from outside to make a difference.
“The local players, most of them, go to Leinster. So, it’s very hard.
“Going to Bath he will get opportunities to build a squad, and that’s what he likes. He wants to build a squad, get people in, get something for four, five, six years and build something amazing in Bath.”