Gibson makes shock decision to quit Waratahs
NEWS: The new 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 is due to front the media at press conference in Sydney on Friday but a Waratahs spokesman has already confirmed to AAP his decision to stand down.
The former All Black joins an alarming mass exodus of big names leaving the Waratahs.
Story continues below:
Test trio Sekope Kepu, Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona are heading to London Irish, exciting young flank 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 Waratahs captain Chris Whitaker loom as potential replacements.
Super Rugby semifinalists 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 team 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 $1300 and suspended from driving for three months after pleading guilty to mid-range drink-driving, the Wallabies hooker this week was hit with a $5000 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.
Waratahs’ 2019 Super Rugby playing roster gone: Israel Folau (contract terminated), Sekope Kepu (London Irish), Curtis Rona (London Irish), Nick Phipps (London Irish), Will Miller (Brumbies), John Folau (released).
Wallabies off contract and undecided: Bernard Foley (rumoured to be going to Japan), Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Karmichael Hunt, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons, Tolu Latu.
Waratahs regulars undecided: Michael Wells, Jed Holloway, Damien Fitzpatrick.