Daryl Gibson applies for top coaching job at NSW Waratahs

Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Wuxi Plastic Surgery

Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Throwing his hat into the ring: Daryl Gibson wants to replace Michael Cheika as NSW head coach next year. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Former All Black Daryl Gibson has declared his ambition to coach the Waratahs next year as the reigning champions prepare to host two-time winners the Chiefs in a trial match on Friday.

Michael Cheika is balancing the Waratahs and Wallabies head coaching roles after taking over from Ewen McKenzie at short notice last year but will leave the NSW franchise to concentrate on the national team as soon as the Super Rugby season ends.

The Waratahs Rugby board has only recently been given the go-ahead to recruit Cheika’s replacement, and hope to have the process finalised within a month, chairman Roger Davis told Fairfax Media last week.

Gibson is Cheika’s anointed successor. The former Crusaders and Maori All Blacks assistant, who played 19 Tests at centre for New Zealand, confirmed he had told the board he was interested in the head coaching role.

“It’s a natural evolution for me, I’ve been an assistant for seven years and I believe I’m ready to lead,” Gibson said.

“It would be a privilege to take over here, Cheik has created an excellent environment and one that I want to be a part of in the future.”

Gibson has played an influential role in the coaching triumvirate at NSW with Cheika and defence coach Nathan Grey. Gibson’s innovative coaching was pivotal to the success of the Waratahs’ back line during the past two seasons, overseeing Kurtley Beale’s move to the mid-field as a second playmaker outside No.10 Bernard Foley, Rob Horne’s conversion from outside centre to winger and Israel Folau’s game-breaking development at fullback. His patient and calculating style was also a useful foil to Cheika and Grey’s more abrasive temperaments.

The squad are preparing for their final trial match against the 2012 and 2013 title-winning Chiefs before their regular season kicks off with a Sunday afternoon match against last year’s big improvers the Force on February 15.

There is still some doubt over whether the anticipated showdown will happen between the sides’ dual internationals Folau and Sonny Bill Williams, who is fresh from a successful return to the boxing ring on Saturday. Williams said he was desperate to play some rugby, but Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is likely to defer to the New Zealand Rugby Union’s wishes around the use of Test players in a World Cup year.

“Certainly I’d imagine Dave is anxious to get [Williams] going,” Gibson said.  “He brings a lot of success through his professionalism and the way he plays, so I’d imagine he’d want his influence there pretty quickly.”

It will be a final chance for Waratahs players to vie for their place in the pecking order in the contested positions of wing, second row and hooker. “Competition is key to trying to win again, it is critical that the Wallabies don’t come in and get a free ride,” Gibson said. “They’re always looking over their shoulder worried about their spot.”

League convert Taqele Naiyarovoro has the inside running on the wing spot vacated by Alofa Alofa, with Peter Betham not expected to be declared fully fit until round one and Rob Horne all but certain to retain his spot.

In the forwards, the Waratahs need a workhorse replacement for second rower Kane Douglas, while young hookers Tolu Latu, Hugh Roach and Manly Marlins breakout Dave Parecki are being encouraged to challenge Test veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau for starting honours this season. Gibson said ex-Warriors forward Sam Lousi exceeded expectations in his first run against Sydney club sides at the weekend, while Jed Holloway had also put his hand up for a place in the second row.

The Chiefs and Waratahs have not met since their thrilling round-16 clash in New Plymouth last year, a 33-17 victory for the Waratahs that gave them crucial momentum leading into the play-offs.

Dave Rennie’s squad did not make it past the Brumbies in the first qualifying final but looked fitter than ever in a trial clash with the Blues on the weekend. “They’ll play a really high-octane game which will be great for us,” Gibson said.  “We need a really strong hit-out mainly because of the integration with our Wallaby players returning, we have to make sure they’re not too underdone going into the game against the Force. The Chiefs have set the benchmark around how hard they work and they’re a team we really respect around that.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

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