Jerry Flannery will depart in late February

Defence coach Jerry Flannery will quit Harlequins later this month after the Gallagher Premiership club agreed to release him from his contract to take up an offer to join Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks.

Flannery’s friend Felix Jones recently stepped away from his role with South Africa following their back-to-back Rugby World Cup triumphs to take up a role coaching defence for Steve Borthwick’s England. That created the Test-level vacancy that will be filled by Flannery, the former Ireland hooker who previously worked under Erasmus at Munster.

Both Flannery and Jones decided not to take up contract extensions at the Irish province in 2019 and while Jones was quickly snapped up by Erasmus to assist the Springboks for their World Cup campaign in Japan, Flannery took some time out before joining Harlequins in 2020 and helping them to Premiership title glory in his first season involved.

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In a RugbyPass World Cup column last September, Flannery described Erasmus as “an innovator, a genius”. Erasmus has gone to the 2023 finals in France in a director of rugby role but with head coach Jacques Nienaber exited after the tournament win to take up a senior coach role with Leinster, a coaching reshuffle became necessary.

This resulted on Tuesday in Erasmus being named as Springboks head coach through to the 2027 World Cup in Australia and Flannery was named as one of four newcomers on the Test team’s staff along with fellow assistant Tony Brown, former referee Jaco Peyper and the recently retired No8 Duane Vermeulen.

A statement on the departure of Flannery from the Premiership read: “Harlequins can confirm that defence coach Jerry Flannery will depart the club in February to take up a coaching role with the South African national team.

“Flannery will depart for the Springboks following the high-profile friendly match at The Stoop on Friday, February 23, as Harlequins take on his former side Munster. Having joined the club in 2020, he has been a key part of the coaching team that won the Gallagher Premiership title in 2021 and now stands second in the Premiership.”

Harlequins director of rugby Billy Millard said: “We will be sorry to see Jerry go as he is a big character and can be very proud of his achievements at Harlequins. We wish him well as he moves into international rugby and continues to develop his career.

“He will always be welcome at The Stoop. For the rest of this season, we have a very strong group of coaches and are very fortunate to have assistant defence coach Jordan Turner-Hall with us, and the resources and structure to achieve our goals.”

Flannery added: “I have loved my time at Harlequins working alongside a talented young group of coaches and players. The opportunity to move into international rugby and to work alongside Rassie Erasmus again after our time at Munster was very appealing.

“I would like to thank Harlequins for supporting my desire to take up this opportunity to develop my career. I look forward to the next few weeks with Harlequins and a final home match at a sold-out Stoop on February 23.”


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