Irish Rugby
Munster close in on new coach
ESPNscrum Staff
April 16, 2012
Munster's Anthony Foley dives over to score a try, Clermont Auvergne v Munster, Heineken Cup, Stade Marcel Michelin, Montferrand, France, January 13, 2008
Former Munster stalwart and current assistant coach Anthony Foley is considered the favourite to take over from the departing boss Tony McGahan © Getty Images
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Munster are reportedly close to naming who will succeed departing coach Tony McGahan.

McGahan will quit the Irish province at the end of the season to join Australia coach Robbie Deans' support staff with current assistant coach Anthony Foley, Canterbury coach Rob Penney and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga thought to be leading the race to take up the Thomond Park hotseat.

The two-time Heineken Cup champions are believed to be holding a second round of interviews this week with former Munster stalwart Foley considered the favourite for the post despite the fact that he only retired from playing in 2008. Having coached Munster A, he was appointed as forwards coach this season and temporarily served as Ireland's forwards coach during this year's Six Nations after Gert Smal was sidelined with an eye condition. However, Munster have denied earlier reports that he has already been handed the role.

Penney looms as his major rival having steered Canterbury to four successive national titles and more recently taken charge of the New Zealand U20s side. The Christchurch-based side have revealed that they will not stand in their coach's way should he be offered the job even though he is contracted until the end of this year.

"No, we wouldn't stand in his way," said Canterbury Rugby Football Union chief executive Hamish Riach. "He let me know midway through last week he has got this opportunity and has been upfront about it. During his time here he has given us longevity, success and his contribution has been outstanding."

The outsider of the three would appear to be Umaga who has had limited success as a coach since hanging up his boots. His international credentials as a player are not in doubt having won 74 caps for the All Blacks but his coaching experience only includes a brief spell in charge of French side Toulon and his current post as coach of Counties Manukau in New Zealand.

Counties Manukau chief executive Andrew Maddock has revealed that Umaga, who worked alongside head coach Milton Haig last year, is only contracted through to the end of the 2012 ITM Cup. "We're pretty keen to have him beyond that of course," Maddock said, "but I guess having someone like him on the team, they do often go for short-term contracts because they are potentially in high demand. We can't stand in the way of that."

Foley's case may also be strengthened by the fact that another New Zealander, Mark Anscombe, is already slated to take over from Brian McLaughlin at Ulster next season while fellow Kiwi Joe Schmidt remains in charge of Leinster.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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