Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Gibson quits Crusaders to further career

Daryl Gibson says it was necessary to quit the Crusaders to further his career. Photo / Getty Images.
Daryl Gibson says it was necessary to quit the Crusaders to further his career. Photo / Getty Images.

Daryl Gibson says it was necessary to quit the Crusaders to further his career.

Gibson, the Crusaders backs coach for the past four seasons, was to have his role diminished next year after head coach Todd Blackadder decided to call in a reinforcement in an attempt to improve his team's attack.

Having seen his new job description - a defence role - Gibson has decided it wasn't for him.

His departure, however, is an amicable one. He broke the news to Blackadder and Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach over a beer last week and remains friends with his former teammate.

It is likely that Gibson's replacement will take charge of attack and defence. The main contenders are Canterbury coaches Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger and Tasman assistant coach Leon MacDonald. All three are former Crusaders players.

Gibson, a former All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder, who coached in Scotland and England after retiring from playing, remains determined to become a head coach and will now look overseas in a bid to be one.

"I'm really positive about what the future holds," he said. "If you look at Super Rugby, most of the head coaching roles are sewn up so there won't be many opportunities there, it is likely to be two or more years for something in New Zealand in particular to come up, so my options are to forge a career somewhere else and to hopefully come back and fight for one of those spots."

Gibson, a 37-year-old married father of four, including five-year-old triplets, was highly thought of at Glasgow and Leicester, where he played and coached, and a return to the United Kingdom seems likely.

It is also where he will happen to be in November when he assists Jamie Joseph on the three-match New Zealand Maori tour.

He admits he is disappointed to have to make the decision and that he could be seen as a scapegoat for the Crusaders' underwhelming form this year in which they again made the playoffs but played poorly in a semifinal defeat by eventual title winners the Chiefs in Hamilton.

"I'm disappointed that I'm missing out on the opportunity to work with a group of high-calibre players in a great environment. I guess that any coach would tear their arm off for that opportunity. I guess a lot of people would be thinking, 'man, what an idiot, he's leaving something special', but when I really weigh it up, the particular role I was offered wasn't something I was willing to do right now," he said.

"Certainly, Todd is doing everything he believes is right for the organisation. He felt splitting those two roles and giving the attack role to someone else might put us in the right direction. I totally respect that. It can't have been an easy decision for him to make but he's made it and it's just not for me.

"I'm probably a little bit disappointed about how inconsistent the backs were last year and I take full responsibility for that."

Under Blackadder and Gibson, the Crusaders have made the playoffs in the past four seasons, their best result coming last year when they lost the final to the Reds in Brisbane despite the earthquakes and constant travelling.

However, they have failed to click at the business end of the competition and expectations at the franchise are high. Blackadder is off contract after next year and is desperate to add to the franchise's seven titles. Their last came in 2008.



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