01/05/02.Alan Gaffney, who will take up his appointment as Munster coach on June 1st was in Cork yesterday to meet the Munster players at their morning training session.
Gafney was an observer as Declan Kidney and Niall O’Donovan put their Munster side through their paces at the UCC sports ground. Later, at a media conference at Musgrave Park, Gaffney said that he would have no role in preparing the side for the Heineken Cup Final. ” No, I will have nothing to do with that side of things. Obviously I have some first hand knowledge of Leicester because Leinster played them in the quarter final and whatever advice I can give to Declan and Niall, I will.”
Gaffney explained that the decision to join the European Cup finalists, had been difficult in one sense that, ” I had built up a great relationship with the players,” who were in the end very supportive of his decision, but countering that there was, ” really no way I could turn my back on the opportunity to coach a side like this one”.
Asked what the challenge would be if, when he takes over the job on June 1st, they are European Cup champions, the quietly spoken Australian readily replied, “Create history by becoming the first side to win back-to-back titles.”
The situation regarding the appointment of an assistant to Gaffney, was clarified by Munster Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald who said they expected to name that person by the end of next week after Gaffney had spoken to those on the short list, the final decision very much down to Munster’s new coach. Although there is a high profile overseas coach on that list – one already linked with another province – Gaffney stressed that his preference would be for an Irish assistant. “I think it is vitally important to recruit from within the province if possible. In a Munster context, I am a great believer in using our own, recruiting coaches and players from the province. That is the strength of this side I believe and I will be continuing that trend.”