Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has admitted he may not have signed up to lead the side three years ago if he knew what he was getting himself into.
In an interview with the Fox Rugby Podcast, Gibson opened up about his time as a professional coach.
After three years – and one title – under Michael Cheika, the 43-year-old took the reins in 2016 after the former joined the Wallabies setup.
Gibson’s first to years in charge were tumultuous. The Waratahs missed the playoffs in Gibson’s first year at the helm before suffering through their worst season in club history in 2017, notching just four wins and finishing in 16th.
Despite calls for Gibson’s head, the former All Black was given another chance to get the side moving in the right direction.
“They backed me last season off two pretty average, mediocre years,” Gibson told Fox Sports.
“I don’t know whether I would have taken the job when I look back.
“As much as it was a winning team, it was very much a team in transition in terms of the roster, the playing list.
“The systems and everything that goes with the experience of all your staff being in place had gone, disappeared.
“To put that back in place and to really, truly own it and do it the way I wanted to do it — it’s taken to this point just to get here.
“One of my goals as NSW coach is making sure that part of the legacy that I want to leave behind is all those development systems and positions that we have in our club, are filled and work regardless of who the head coach is.”
The Waratahs’ return to the finals has been built on a new found consistency; they have been beaten by more than 12 points just once this season.
Gibson believes the Waratahs are only now starting to play to their potential after regaining stability following Cheika’s departure.
With the benefit of hindsight, Gibson said he would have done things differently in those first two years in charge.
“If I had my time again, I probably would have been a little bit more patient,” Gibson said.
“I’ve learnt how important it is that the head coach is supported from an organisational view.
“Having incredible stability and direction — the CEO, the chairman, the captain, your support staff — all in place and being really stable and all aligned towards one direction and a firm direction.
“When I look back to 2015, when Cheik left to take on the Wallabies, he took six staff with him, which is a big hole to fill.
“At the time we had no CEO, no general manager — the ingredients that you need to be a really successful club weren’t in place and so we really were starting from a blank canvas.
“For some coaches that would be a really appealing thing, but I guess being inexperienced at that stage, I made some mistakes.
“When I reflect on that, I would have probably taken my time a little bit more and been far more considered with my moves.”
Gibson’s Waratahs finished the 2018 regular season as the best Australian team in Super Rugby, and were the side to break Australia’s two-year duck against New Zealand competition when they defeated the Highlanders in week 14.
Saturday night will see them host the Highlanders once again in just their second playoff appearance since their 2014 grand final win.
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