London Irish have confirmed the signature of Australia international Rob Simmons. As reported by RugbyPass earlier this week, the second row will leave the NSW Waratahs and link up with his new Exiles teammates following the completion of the Super Rugby AU season.
Simmons has more than 150 Super Rugby appearances under his belt across stints with the Queensland Reds and Waratahs, alongside a distinguished international career.
The 31-year-old made his Test debut in 2010 and has lined out at the 2011, 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups, winning his 100th cap for the Wallabies against Georgia in Japan last year.
London Irish also confirmed that Ruan Botha is set to stay permanently in Japan after an initial short-term deal.
“Rob comes to London Irish with fantastic club and international experience under his belt” explained Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.
“We are very happy that we had the capacity to recruit someone of Rob’s abilities and we are excited to see him in the London Irish shirt.”
Simmons will find a host of familiar faces at his new club as he joins fellow Wallabies Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Sekope Kepu and Adam Coleman.
“Coming over to England is a brilliant opportunity for me and I can’t wait to get going with London Irish” said Simmons.
“I already know a few of the guys over there, so it will be good to have some familiar faces when I arrive.
“It seems to be an exciting time for the club, especially with the stadium move next season, so I am looking forward to linking up with my new teammates and contributing as much as I can.”
A product of Theodore in rural Queensland, Simmons has amassed 154 Super Rugby appearances (114 QLD and 40 NSW), alongside a string of representative honours stretching back to schoolboy rugby.
NSW Waratahs Head Coach, Rob Penney said that Simmons’ influence during his tenure at the club had been immeasurable.
“Rob’s an outstanding human being first and foremost, just one of those people you really enjoy having around your group,” Penney said.
?? | @wallabies centurion Rob Simmons will join the club after the completion of Super Rugby AU ?
? "It seems to be an exciting time for the club, especially with the stadium move next season. I can’t wait to get going with London Irish."
— London Irish (@LiRFC) July 31, 2020
“His leadership and influence over our squad has been outstanding to witness – particularly given the challenges we’ve all recently faced.
“As soon as I arrived at Daceyville it became pretty apparent that Rob was the sort of character that could lead this group through the season, it’s panned out a little differently [with COVID-19] to what we expected but he’s handled himself unbelievably well throughout.
“He leaves a real mark on this group with the experience he’s been able to impart on the next generation of Waratah and while we’re sad to see him go, we understand what a great opportunity this is for Simmo and his young family.”
Simmons said it was a decision that he considered at length and after much deliberation, felt the time was right to move onto a new challenge in his career.
“It was a really tough decision [to leave] but after speaking with many people around me, I felt that now was the time to take the opportunity to play overseas,” Simmons explained.
“Timing with situations like this can’t always be perfect, but the Waratahs have been fantastic in understanding my desire to take on a new challenge.
“I’ve loved my time in Super Rugby and the last few years with the Waratahs, it’s a wonderful organisation and it’s been an honour to lead this group throughout 2020.
“My teammates and our management team have been tremendous over the last few years, there’s a lot to be excited about here in New South Wales and I’m looking forward to seeing it unfold from afar.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now