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Foley: It Hasn’t Sunk In Yet

Foley: It Hasn’t Sunk In Yet

Anthony Foley has today expressed his delight with signing a two-year contract as Munster’s head coach from next season.

The current Munster forwards coach was informed of the decision yesterday and revealed that the news has yet to sink in.

“It’s a bit surreal at the moment, the last couple of weeks have been like it was happening to somebody else,” admitted Anthony Foley, who has been chosen to replace the departing Rob Penney in the summer.

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“We go week-to-week in our job and we have new opposition coming up each weekend so something like this hits you, and it hits you hard.

“It hasn’t really settled in yet and it won’t until July to be honest with you, and that’s when the job starts.”

The Limerick man made 201 appearances for Munster as a player, lifting two Heineken Cups along the way – the second of them as captain – before joining the backroom staff in 2008.

His first role was as technical advisor and assistant coach for defence, before he took up the position of head coach with the Munster Under-20s and then the Munster ‘A’ squad that reached the inaugural British & Irish Cup final in May 2010.

He moved on to his current position of Munster forwards coach at the start of the 2011/12 season and takes the head coach reins from July 1 on a two-year contract with the option for a third year.

“Being asked to be head coach here is special,” said the former Ireland back rower. “It was always special when I was captain here and it was special when I got my first cap here and playing underage here is a special time for any kid.

“To get to this point I feel lucky and I’m going to grasp it with both hands and really go after it and try to make this as strong a team as possible.

“When I was growing up, my playground was Thomond Park – that’s where I was every weekend and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I was in there training, so that’s what I know,” he added.

After six years working on the coaching staff at Munster along with roles in the international set-up – including a stint as head coach of the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds – Foley was asked if he felt the time was right for him to take the head coach position at Munster and his answer was unequivocal.

“Yeah, I did. Through my career I’ve worked with Munster Under-20s, I’ve worked with the ‘A’ side so I’ve worked with a lot of the guys I’ve been asked to take charge of from next season on.

“It hurt missing out on it the last time but you take your learnings from that and you try to improve.

“I really enjoyed my time with the Wolfhounds, it gave me a feel for having a team and I’m looking forward to next season already, obviously not taking my eye off this season.

“I understand where we are and I understand the continuity that’s needed from within and the staff that I need to bring in to try and strengthen.

“I understand the dual location double centres and I know the pitfalls there. I know all the staff at this stage and I know the majority of the playing staff so I’m in a good knowledgeable place.”

Despite his obvious delight with the prospect of leading his native province next season, Foley is completely focused on ensuring a successful end to the current season with Munster currently top of the RaboDirect PRO12 and looking forward to a Heineken Cup quarter-final against Toulouse in April.

“We’re in two competitions, we’re in a good place in the Rabo and we’re in a very good place in the Heineken Cup as well and it’s very important we keep on task here, making sure that we go hard until the end of the year.”