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Munster have confirmed that Stephen Larkham will be leaving their coaching staff at the end of this season. 

The former Wallabies back was appointed as the province's senior coach in 2019, but Munster say he's turned down an offer to extend his contract beyond the summer of 2022.

Larkham says the incentive of a coaching position in his native Australia has informed his decision, along with a desire to return to his homeland with his family.

His decision completes a 180-degree turn from the 47-year old who - when asked about extending his deal in September - said, "Of course, we all do [want to stay], it's a great environment here at the moment.

“We certainly feel as though things are building in the right direction, we had a really good year last year and we want that to continue, we have a really good cohesion as a coaching group at the moment, we're really enjoying it."

Larkham's impending departure may increase speculation that head coach Johan van Graan will also leave when his contract expires at the end of this campaign.

Van Graan has refused to engage in rumours about his future.

“I only recently spoke about my desire to remain with Munster and continue working with my fellow coaches and playing group," Larkham said.

“That hopefully gives some indication as to how difficult a decision this has been for me. The staff, players, fans, and facilities are world class here and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

“My family made a number of sacrifices in joining me on this move to Ireland and my girls’ adjustment over here, particularly with covid, has been difficult. I have to put them first now, and with a coaching opportunity closer to home this is the right thing for my family at this time.

“For now, my focus is very much with Munster Rugby and with a long season ahead I will savour every moment of working within this great environment as we continue to build in the right direction.”

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