Anthony Foley to replace Rob Penney as Munster head coach

Anthony Foley

Former Ireland forward Anthony Foley will succeed Rob Penney as Munster head coach at the end of this season.

New Zealander Penney announced earlier this month he would step down from the role after two years in charge.

Foley will be promoted from his present role of forwards coach and will take over for the start of the 2014-15 season after signing a two-year deal.

"This is a huge honour and privilege for me," said Foley, who won 62 Irish caps and played 201 times for Munster.

The Limerick man retired from playing at the end of the 2007-08 season and joined the Irish province's backroom staff in July 2008 as technical advisor and assistant coach for defence.

Since then he has held the position of head coach with both Munster Under-20s and Munster's British and Irish Cup squad which reached the inaugural British and Irish Cup final in May 2010.

He moved to his current position of forwards coach at the start of the 2011-12 season, and the 40-year-old also has experience at national level as the forwards and head coach for the Ireland Wolfhounds, and forwards coach for Ireland.

"Anthony was the stand-out candidate to succeed Rob Penney at the end of the season and I believe he will do an excellent job in leading this squad forward," said Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald.

"His experience and knowledge is of huge benefit to this young Munster side and I'm sure it will be an easy transition for both the players and backroom team to carry on the positive progress already made.

"I am glad that all parties could come to an agreement in such a prompt manner as we continue to focus our efforts on the remainder of the season. In the next few months Anthony will continue to play his part in the coaching team, supporting Rob, as Munster challenge for silverware in both competitions."

Foley added: "I am very fortunate to have played and achieved success with this club, my home club, at the top level and now I look forward to leading the next generation of Munster players to future success in the red jersey.

"But before that we have a job to do this season and I will continue to play my part, working closely with Rob [Penney], Simon [Mannix] and Ian [Costello], as we push for titles."

Penney and Mannix, who turned down the option of a third year in charge, are understood to be the subject of interest from another club.

Munster are currently top of the Pro12 and have reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.