Wallaby star explains reason behind move to the north
TRANSFER NEWS: The Waratahs confirmed that Rob Simmons will depart the franchise at the completion of Super Rugby AU to take up an opportunity overseas with English club London Irish.
The 100-Test Wallaby joined the Waratahs at the beginning of the 2018 after nine seasons with the Queensland Reds – including a Super Rugby Championship in 2011.
Re-signed in late 2019 before heading to his third Rugby World Cup, Simmons was appointed to the captaincy at the beginning of 2020, leading a young group of Waratahs through a tumultuous period in professional sport across the country and the world.
A product of Theodore in rural Queensland, Simmons has amassed 154 Super Rugby appearances (114 QLD and 40 NSW), alongside a string of representative honours stretching back to schoolboy rugby.
Waratahs head coach, Rob Penney said that Simmons’ influence during his tenure at the franchise had been immeasurable.
“Rob’s an outstanding human being first and foremost, just one of those people you really enjoy having around your group,” Penney said.
“His leadership and influence over our squad has been outstanding to witness – particularly given the challenges we’ve all recently faced.
“As soon as I arrived at Daceyville it became pretty apparent that Rob was the sort of character that could lead this group through the season, it’s panned out a little differently [with COVID-19] to what we expected but he’s handled himself unbelievably well throughout.
“He leaves a real mark on this group with the experience he’s been able to impart on the next generation of Waratah and while we’re sad to see him go, we understand what a great opportunity this is for Simmo and his young family.”
100 Tests, 154 Super Rugby appearances and our Captain.
We can confirm that 2020 will be Simmo’s final season as a Waratah.
— NSW Waratahs (@NSWWaratahs) July 31, 2020
Simmons said it was a decision that he considered at length and after much deliberation, felt the time was right to move onto a new challenge in his career.
“It was a really tough decision [to leave] but after speaking with many people around me, I felt that now was the time to take the opportunity to play overseas,” Simmons said.
“Timing with situations like this can’t always be perfect, but the Waratahs have been fantastic in understanding my desire to take on a new challenge.
“I’ve loved my time in Super Rugby and the last few years with the Waratahs, it’s a wonderful organisation and it’s been an honour to lead this group throughout 2020.
“My teammates and our management team have been tremendous over the last few years, there’s a lot to be excited about here in New South Wales and I’m looking forward to seeing it unfold from afar.”
The Waratahs have now lost nine international players since the beginning of last year with Sekope Kepu (110 Tests), Tolu Latu (19), Bernard Foley (71), Adam Ashley-Cooper (121), Israel Folau (71), Kurtley Beale (92), Nick Phipps (72) and Curtis Rona (3) all having departed.