Former All Black Daryl Gibson has quit the NSW Waratahs after a tumultuous Super Rugby season, leaving the franchise in turmoil.
The new NSW Waratahs coach will be charged with a complete rebuild of the playing roster after Daryl Gibson’s shock decision to walk away from the embattled Super Rugby franchise.
The Israel Folau saga on Friday claimed another victim, with Gibson quitting after one of the most tumultuous seasons in Waratahs history.
Gibson, who joined the ‘Tahs’ as an assistant to Michael Cheika in 2013 before taking over as head coach in 2015, had one year remaining on his contract.
Gibson will front the media at press conference in Sydney later on Friday afternoon but a Waratahs spokesman has already confirmed to AAP his decision to stand down.
Today we say goodbye to Daryl Gibson who has been involved with the NSW Waratahs for the last 7 years. A Championship winner, leader and an advocate for our game in NSW. Thanks for everything Gibbo, you’ll be missed.
— NSW Waratahs (@NSWWaratahs) June 21, 2019
The former All Black joins an alarming mass exodus of big names leaving the Waratahs.
Test trio Sekope Kepu, Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona are heading to London Irish, exciting young flanker Will Miller is Brumbies-bound and Folau’s younger brother John has also been released.
But even more concerning is the fact that Wallabies playmaker Bernard Foley is rumoured to be heading to Japan, while fellow internationals Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Karmichael Hunt, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons and Tolu Latu are all also off contract after this year’s World Cup.
Damien Fitzpatrick, Jed Holloway, and Michael Wells are other senior Waratahs players weighing up their futures, leaving Gibson’s successor and chief executive Andrew Hore with a major headache.
Assistant coaches Steve Tandy and former NSW captain Chris Whitaker loom as potential replacements.
Super Rugby semi-finalists and Australian conference winners last year, the Waratahs finished 12th on the ladder in 2019 after winning only three of their last eight games without the suspended and subsequently sacked Folau.
Gibson will leave the club after a season of lost opportunities and one sadly marred by a series of off-field controversies, chiefly Folau’s bitter fight with Rugby Australia.
After snapping the mighty Crusaders’ record 19-match winning streak in March, the Waratahs’ campaign hit the skids.
Folau became Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer with his 60th five-pointer in a narrow round-eight loss to the Blues in Auckland in April.
But that was the last game the dual international played after having his multi-million-dollar four-year contract torn up for his controversial social media posts.
Unable to replace his attacking prowess, the Waratahs struggled to find tries during the second half of the season, slumping from first in the Australian conference to third behind the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels by season’s end.
To great frustration to Gibson and the team, the Tahs lost six games by eight points or less and three by three points or less.
In addition to the Folau firestorm, Gibson and the Waratahs had to contend with Latu’s drink-driving drama.
Having just completed a six-match suspension, Latu was found asleep at the wheel of a moving car last month before registering a 0.135 blood alcohol reading.
Fined A$1,300 and suspended from driving for three months after pleading guilty to mid-range drink-driving, the Wallabies hooker this week was hit with a A$5,000 breach notice by Rugby Australia and banned for four matches.
Gibson has been linked to a reunion with Cheika as Wallabies attack coach, a role that’s been vacant since Stephen Larkham was axed in February.
By Darren Walton