“Munster are a team in transition” says Rob Penney

New Munster Rugby Head Coach, Rob Penney was one of the special guests on ‘Setanta Sports’ ‘iTalkSport on Sunday morning when among the topics discussed were:

Are Munster in transition?
Anthony Foley’s prospects of taking over from Penney?
Has he been in in touch with Ronan O’Gara and Paul O’Connell yet?

Let’s look at what the man on whom Munster are pinning their hopes for the next two years had to say on these and other subjects:

On getting the job:

“I got a call and was asked whether I’d be interested ?.For us in New
Zealand, it doesn’t get much bigger than Munster in terms of European

So I was really flattered for someone to think that maybe I
should be applying. I went through the process. The interview was very
thorough. I was really impressed with the calibre of the people that I
spoke to through the interview.

On the back of that, I was fortunate
enough to get an invite to go over and meet the people of Munster and
I was appointed. For me to get the job at Munster is really humbling.

Any issues with Anthony Foley, who was also in the running?

I had a telephone conversation with Anthony, not long after I was
appointed. I was really impressed with the calibre of the man, even
though it was only a short conversation.

The other people I’ve spoken to, around Anthony’s involvement with the group, assured me that he
was a really good bloke. So to that end, I think what really impressed
me about Anthony on our first conversation, was that he is driven to
see Munster succeed.

He’s going to be a critical part of our coaching
mix. He has vast experience and is a legend in the Munster area. His
experience of the European championships is going to be invaluable to
me. I’ll be using his knowledge and I hope to be able to give him my
experience and knowledge… He’s going to be a crucial cog in the mix”.

About that phone call with ‘Axel’? :

“I understood that there would be a degree of frustration on his
behalf, but I wanted to allay any fears he had about being pushed to
the side.

That certainly won’t be the case. He’ll be a critical part,
given his experience and his relationship with the players

Ultimately, his final comment was that he’s 100 percent supportive,
and just really wants the Munster boys to be the best they can be.
He’ll do everything he can to help that happen”
Has he been asked to groom Foley to be the next Head coach?

“Yes that was alluded to me early on that it’s what they would like to
do. I really committed that that would be part of my thinking.

” I think it’s really important to have that continuity and the ability to have
someone who’s got the experience of European rugby, or established
relationships with the group. I basically indicated to them that it
would be something that I would be very supportive of, if Anthony was

Did he speak to Ronan O’Gara and Paul O’Connell before he was appointed?:

“I did. I was fortunate enough to have half an hour or so with each of
them. They’re very impressive men, and you can see the fire burning in
them to get Munster to the forefront of Irish rugby again. They’re
very passionate, dedicated rugby men and that was inspiring for me”.

Are Munster in transition?

“I see the Munster group in transition, and my task is to try to get a
winning group as quickly as possible, but the reality is that it is a
transitioning side. I’d like to think that I’ve had a bit of
experience doing that, and I think that the two can be done

But as I’ve said before, I’ll be learning a lot from
Anthony and the other support staff that have been retained, because I
haven’t coached in the European championship before and there will be
some learning for me”.

iTalkSport is on Setanta Sports every weekend with Paul Kimmage and Eoin McDevitt


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