Munster's head coach in-waiting Graham Rowntree says preparations are already under way to recruit his backroom team.

Rowntree was officially confirmed as the province's new head coach this morning, stepping up from his role as forwards coach when Johann van Graan departs for Bath at the end of the season.

With defence coach JP Ferreira following Van Graan to Bath, and senior coach Stephen Larkham returning to Australia, Rowntree is the only member of the senior coaching ticket confirmed for next season.

But the Englishman says he has already begun the process of recruiting his team of assistants, having had to identify candidates to Munster and the IRFU during the interview process.

"I'm already speaking to people, obviously," he said.

"Throughout the process, I've had to have a plan to present. We'll continue that without getting distracted.

"It was a thorough process, all done now, and we can crack on. Not that I was distracted by any means, but it was quite consuming.

"Now we crack on, and crack on with Saturday's game in particular," he added, ahead of Saturday's Heineken Champions Cup last 16 second leg against Exeter at Thomond Park. Munster trail 13-8 on aggregate after defeat last weekend.

The new role will be Rowntree's first as the main man, but the 50-year-old has amassed a wealth of experience as a forwards coach since his retirement from playing 15 years ago.

After a brief spell as an assistant with Leicester he spent eight years as forwards coach with England, notably alongside Stuart Lancaster, Andy Farrell and Mike Catt during their ill-fated 2015 World Cup campaign.

After leaving his role with England, the former prop (54 caps) spent time with both Harlequins and the Georgian national side, while he was also part of Warren Gatland's coaching ticket for the British and Irish Lions tours of 2009, 2013 and 2017, before turning down a role on the 2021 tour in order to spend time with his family.

After a decade and a half of working in the supporting cast, he says it's the right time to take on the leading role.

"I'm ready. I just feel I'm ready, and I know the club feels it's the right time.

"I learned a lot. You get to a point in your career where you're comfortable about making the step up with the experiences you've been through.

"That's why I threw my hat in the ring, and luckily I got it.

"It's very much like the environment that I grew up with in Leicester. Very down to earth, humble group of people. Very passionate, a big supporter base who are mad about their rugby, enjoy the craic, say no more."

Rowntree has stressed that outgoing head coach Van Graan remains the boss until the end of the season, with their attention quickly turning to this Saturday's Champions Cup last 16 second leg with the Chiefs at Thomond Park.

Munster will have to overturn a five-point deficit against the 2020 champions after last week's loss in Devon.

"I was happy with the second half," Rowntree said of the first-leg defeat.

"The fight we showed, particularly our goal line defence was pleasing in the second half. It's been widely stated our first half wasn't good enough, particularly the first quarter. We addressed that.

"That goal line stand at the end of the game, that's what we stand for. On the back of that fight, we have a team coming to our place, and it's going to be one hell of a game, but I'm delighted with how we ended the game. It will be another tough one this weekend."