Johann van Graan says he won't allow his end-of-season departure to become a distraction.

The Munster head coach this afternoon confirmed he would depart for English Premiership side Bath in the summer, ending what will be a four-and-a-half-year spell at the Irish side.

The South African used a break clause to get out of the new contract he signed earlier this season, which would have seen him remain at the province until 2024.

Speaking this afternoon, the 41-year-old said it was a difficult decision to leave.

"It hasn't (been easy). It's a club that I've love. I've enjoyed every single moment here," he said.

"I told the team yesterday. The very first day that I walked in here I said that I have one golden rule, and that's treat others as you want to be treated. We've always been honest both ways, so I told the group yesterday.

"It was emotional for me, It was emotional for them.

"We've got seven months left, and if I step away from it that's also professional sport. Coaches come and coaches go, players come and players go, we're a tight-knit group and we've got big dreams for the season.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself week to week, we've got a big game coming up on Saturday evening."

Reports suggested that Van Graan's decision to invoke the release clause in his contract stemmed from frustrations with the influence of private investors were having on the province's Professional Game Board.

However, when asked if there had been any breakdown in working relationships, Van Graan remained tight-lipped.

"I've never done, and am not going to start, any of my contract details in the public.

"I've spoken to all the relevant people at Munster and the IRFU, and am very happy with the process that was followed. I have seven months left here and looking forward to the journey ahead," he added.

The province will welcome back some players to their squad for Saturday's Heineken Champions Cup game against Castres at Thomond Park after, although a "large" contingent will remain unavailable, as they deal with a short training week and the complications of their abandoned tour of South Africa last month.

A win against their old French rivals would see Munster take one step into the last 16 of the tournament, which is one of two opportunities to end Van Graan's spell in charge with silverware.

"That's been the same from the first day that's I've joined. That's one of our dreams as a group, nothing has changed in that regard," he said.

However, he added that they won't look further ahead than the pool stages, starting with this Saturday against Castres.

"To get to the opportunity to win a trophy you have to get yourself into knockout games.

"Europe is only four games, we've got five points away from home.

"Covid is going to make it tricky, there will be a lot of teams under pressure so we need to make sure we do the best we can to field a team each week and perform with the opportunities we have, and hopefully that will put us in a good position late in the season."

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