The news that Stephen Larkham is to up sticks and head for home at the end of the season took many by surprise.

Munster on Tuesday confirmed that the legendary Australian out-half is to leave his post as senior coach, and it was announced last night that he would take up the head coach position with the Brumbies, for whom he played with for 11 seasons and where was was previously head coach between 2014 and 2017.

Having made noises recently that he would be open to extending his stay in Ireland, it's a blow for Munster.

The word on the ground in the southern province is that a mooted contract extension for head coach Johann van Graan is not as straightforward as it might be.

The 41-year-old South African, whose team are currently in his homeland for a two-game URC tour, took over from Rassie Erasmus in 2017 and his current contract runs until the summer of 2022.

Lenihan, a former Munster and Ireland captain, says it is imperative that Van Graan's contract situation is sorted out as soon as possible.

Larkham in action against Ireland in 2002

"Do we know for certain that Van Graan is going to be the head coach? If he's going to be gone then a new head coach might have his own ideas," Lenihan told the RTÉ Rugby podcast.

"[Any new coach] could well be a back himself and have his own ideas of how you're playing.

"You do have that degree of uncertainty so what you need to do now before you appoint an assistant coach is clarify what's happening with the head coach.

"Therefore, they need to say, 'look, Van Graan is staying, or he's going?'

"That to me a key element in this process now.

"The last thing you want is someone like Mike Prendergast or Noel McNamara appointed and then there's a turnover in the head coach seven of eight months down the road. That would be a disaster."

On the subject of Larkham's replacement, Bernard Jackman suggested that current Racing 92 backs and attacks coach Prendergast, a former Munster player, could be the right man for the job.

"The guy they should look to try and get home is Mike Prendergast," said 2009 Heineken Cup winner Jackman.

"He is recognised in France as probably the best attack coach. He's served his time, he knows Munster rugby."

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