State legend returns as Tahs reshuffle coaching deck
Photo: SPA Images
After a much-improved performance in 2018, planning is already underway for the 2019 Super Rugby season at the NSW Waratahs, with a reshuffle of the coaching deck seeing the return to the fold of one of the state’s most beloved former players.
Head coach Daryl Gibson has agreed an extension to his contract to lead the side around again, with assistant Simon Cron to continue his fine work with the forwards and contact area of the game. But the departure of fellow assistant Chris Malone after three years at Moore Park, has opened the door for former star scrumhalf Chris Whitaker to return home from overseas, and pick up the NSW baton he left behind as a player back in 2006.
Whitaker donned the Cambridge Blue of his state 118 times, with 107 caps for the Waratahs, whilst also featuring in 31 tests for the Wallabies. Since heading to Europe 12 years ago, he has enjoyed a successful playing spell in Ireland with Leinster before hanging up the boots and transitioning to life as a coach, initially with Leinster and then at Stade Francais in France.
He is currently joint-head coach of French Pro D2 side US Montauban, but is hugely excited at the prospect of returning home to play a part in what he sees as a positive era for the sport in this country.
“The knowledge and experience you gain overseas is great. But it is time for me to come home and contribute to the game and a State that has given so much to me and my family throughout my career,” he said of his impending move.
“Rugby in Australia is improving and I couldn’t pass on the chance to help further develop and grow the potential we have here.”
Chris Malone – affectionally known as Nobby – was pleased to be able to reflect on an extremely positive season for the Waratahs, as he bid farewell for pastures new.
“It’s been fantastic to see the team come together this year and delivering on our potential. We are absolutely gutted we didn’t get through to the final but we can be proud of how we have played the game this year, including setting a new record by being the first NSW Waratahs team to score over 600 points in a season, along the way entertaining our members and fans, and representing our State with pride.
“One of the highlights for me this year was to hear the NSW chant at our games and it shows that rugby is getting the recognition it deserves,” he continued. “I have really enjoyed my time with the team and the organisation, there are a lot of good people here, and I leave knowing that the game in this State is in good hands.”
Daryl Gibson will assume Malone’s attacking role next season, and paid tribute to his departing assistant before looking ahead to a potentially exciting future.
“Nobby has been an integral part of our team and the work that he has done with our backs and overall contribution to the success of the team has been immense. We wish him all the very best as he forges a new career that he is very excited about,” he said.
“I am really proud of how this team has developed and improved over the past 12 months to make the final four. While our goal was to bring the Super Rugby trophy home, we can hold our heads high and reflect on a season in which we made massive inroads both on and off the field. The job is not done yet but we are excited about what’s to come.”