sport

Munster announce Penney exit

Munster head coach Rob Penney and backs coach Simon Mannix will leave the province at the end of the season.

The Kiwi duo are out of contract this summer and have opted against renewing their deals with the Irish province.

Penney initially signed a two-year contract when he was appointed at the start of the 2012/13 season and had the option of a third year, but Munster revealed that the 49-year-old has attracted the interest of another club, believed to be in Japan.

"I am disappointed to be leaving Munster as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here," said Penney.

"I have to take this opportunity presented to me and prioritise my family and personal circumstances at this time.

"We still have a few months to go and the goals remain the same - I want to achieve success with this great group of lads!"

'Positive influence'

Munster have been in impressive form under Penney this season, winning 15 of their 18 games, and remain on course for a domestic and European trophy double.

The Irish province sits on top of the Pro12 table while they also finished first in their Heineken Cup pool, earning them a home quarter-final against Toulouse in April.

Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said, "When we reach the end of the season Rob will leave with our thanks and best wishes for the future.

"Rob has been a very positive influence on this Munster squad and management and we are disappointed to see him go as we had hoped that he would fulfil his third season.

"In developing the squad he has highlighted the strength and depth of the Munster panel, with the competition for places as high as ever.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Simon for his work and commitment to the province, and we wish him all the best for the future. He has contributed to Munster's overall campaign and added great value to our coaching team.

"We now need to focus on the remainder of this season and the opportunities ahead in both the Heineken Cup and the RaboDirect PRO12. We are confident both Simon and Rob will continue to strive for success and guide the squad through to the next stage."

Munster and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell has revealed that the club wanted Penney to stay for another year but that the coach had to do what was right for him and his family.

"I know they were eager for him to stay for another year and I think it's a pity he won't be staying," said O'Connell.

"It's a shock; I suppose I'd heard rumours. It's disappointing, but he's got to do what's right for his family.

"Hopefully Munster will put someone in place quickly who can continue the improvements Rob has brought in the last two years.

"With us having qualified for the quarter-finals there will be a lot of interest in the job, which is great for Munster."