THE NSW Waratahs has turned to former Wallabies forward Michael Foley to lead the Super 15 club for the next three years.
One of Australia’s most-capped front row forwards, Foley takes over the role as head coach from Chris Hickey - who stepped down as the most successful coach in the club's history.
Serving the past three seasons as assistant coach to Hickey, Foley also spent time as coach of Bath in England and as a set-piece specialist for the Wallabies.
Waratahs CEO Jason Allen said the club conducted an extensive search for the next head coach, but decided to go with the experience and knowledge of Foley.
“We have undertaken an extensive global search over the past few months and on behalf of the Board I’m delighted to announce that Michael Foley will be the next head coach of the HSBC Waratahs,” said Allen.
“Michael has a reputation as one of the best technical coaches in the world and the respect he has from the playing group is second to none."
The exiting Hickey said he was proud of his performance as coach but believed it was the right time to step aside.
“I approached Jason and the Board before the end of the season to let them know I would not be seeking reappointment beyond 2011,” Hickey said.
“It was important to me that this did not become a distraction to the team and that a sound process was in place to appoint my successor.
“I’m proud of what we have achieved in my three years at the Waratahs and I know the organisation is in great hands with Michael Foley who will provide a seamless transition."
Foley said he would have to hit the ground running in his new role, highlighting the need to connect with the community and building on last season's performances as major issues.
“The amount of character that was shown in some trying times this year was unquestionable,” said Foley.
“From my perspective, to see that first hand was really inspiring.
“That doesn’t hide the fact that there were performances this year that were very disappointing, but it does create the belief that this group of players has the ability to achieve great things and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
“It is (also) important for the team to have a real connection with the fans, to have a strong relationship with our members and supporters and a major initiative will be finding ways to do that both on and off the field.
“From a Rugby perspective we need to execute at a higher skill level with greater consistency – that’s what we want to do on the field and we know that’s what the crowds want to see."
Scott Bowen will remain with the team as an assistant coach along with Alan Gaffney who will join the HSBC Waratahs at the conclusion of Ireland’s World Cup campaign.
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