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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 24 February, 2019

Jono Gibbes will return to southern hemisphere after one season with Ulster

The New Zealander has spent a decade in Europe since moving to work under Michael Cheika in Leinster.

Image: Jonathan Porter/INPHO

ULSTER’S COACHING ROOM will have a new look again next season as the province this morning confirmed that Jono Gibbes will depart after this campaign.

The former Leinster and Clermont forwards coach, who has been linked with a second stint working under Michael Cheika, this time for the Wallabies, says he is heading south for family reasons.

“Being a long way from home for the last 10 years has made me prioritise things above my career and so I’ll be returning at the end of this season for family reasons,” Gibbes said in a statement released by the northern province this morning.

Gibbes moved from Clermont to Belfast last summer and has been head coach with Ulster since the closing days of January when director of rugby Les Kiss left the province in the wake of a sound beating away to Wasps which locked Ulster out of the Champions Cup knock-out stages.

Since then, Ulster thrashed the hapless Southern Kings, but slipped to fourth place in Pro14 Conference B with losses at home to Edinburgh and then to an under-strength Scarlets. They were due to face the high-flying Glasgow Warriors this evening until the inclement weather forced the game to be postponed.

“I believe there are enough passionate and professional people involved to build on the existing strong foundations of the club,” Gibbes adds.

“The challenge ahead for Ulster demands the full attention of everyone involved; the management group, the team, the coaches and support staff. It is exciting and achievable. However, I cannot in good conscience provide my full attention for the journey ahead.”

Operations director Bryn Cunningham, who signalled that the province would seek to break down and rebuild their structures after Kiss’ departure, thanked Gibbes for his efforts and said:

“A review of the coaching structure is ongoing and the desired outcome of this will be to provide us with a strong, well-balanced coaching team and some long-term stability.”

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Sean Farrell

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