Tahs confirm the departure of Darren Coleman and the search for a new coach is already underway

NSW Rugby has confirmed that Darren Coleman will step down as Waratahs head coach at the end of the season.

The Tahs have already begun the search for a successor and Rugby Australia high performance director Peter Horne is expected to be central to the decision. The Roar understands Junior Wallabies coach Nathan Gray is currently the favorite for the job.

Coleman will remain as coach for the final two games of a disappointing season in which his team finished last and out of finals contention. They have won only two of 10 games, both against the Crusaders.

He will lead the team against Moana Pasifika at Go Media Stadium and the Queensland Reds at Allianz Stadium before finishing.

Last month, former Wallaby and Stan expert Morgan Turinui urged the Tahs to look for Michael Cheika to replace Coleman from next season.

Cheika, who stepped down as Argentina coach after last year’s World Cup, won the competition with Tahs in 2014.

“I think it’s time for the Tahs to get someone who can make a real difference and who can quickly achieve sustainable success,” Turinui said. “I think it is time for Rugby Australia to seriously consider bringing Michael Cheika to the Waratahs.

“He is someone who understands Australian rugby. He is a successful international level coach who has built provincial teams and is one of the best provincial level coaches of all time… Perhaps the time has come.”

Coleman joined the NSW Waratahs as head coach in June 2021, replacing Rob Penney, and reached the finals in 2022 and 2023.

Chief executive Paul Doorn said in a statement on Monday: “During his tenure, Darren has brought a deep connection to rugby in New South Wales, especially the Shute Shield, a passion for the game and dedication to the team.

“His leadership of the program has always been very authentic and he has made genuine connections with the Waratah staff, players and fans.

Darren Coleman, coach of the NSW Waratahs (Photo by Getty Images).

“Under Darren’s leadership, the NSW Waratahs have endured three challenging seasons, with resilience and determination being key aspects of their coaching.

“His inculcation of ‘Tah Tough’ into the team’s on-field performances has been commendable, fostering a culture of teamwork and hard work.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“The decision not to extend Darren’s contract was made after careful consideration and evaluation of the high performance function, team performance and the future objectives of our organization.

“The NSW Waratahs express our gratitude to Darren for his hard work and dedication during his time at our club and extend our best wishes for his future endeavours.

“We sincerely thank him for his contributions to the NSW Waratahs and rugby in New South Wales.”

Coleman was a popular figure with fans and media early in his tenure. On arrival he talked about wanting to see the bars full at Moore Park because the team was playing exciting rugby.

He relied on personality and wanted players prepared to fight to the end.

“Talent is important but there is already a lot of talent in that squad. Obviously some of it is underdeveloped, but if you’re going to play for the Waratahs next year under me you’ve got to have a don’t give up attitude,” Coleman said.

“You have to be a positive guy, you have to want to have fun and start working with a smile on your face and want to invest and be emotional about the team and what we are doing.

“If you do those things you will get along well with me and that will benefit the team.

“I’ve never had a problem getting the kids together. I can put together a good time pretty quickly.

“That whole fun aspect is huge. Where I sit now, my office is above the team room and the players’ lounge and I feel the joint hum when there is laughter.

“If guys wake up from bed and think ‘damn, I have to go to training’, you know you’re not doing something right.

“If they come in and have a spring in their step and high-five and laugh at practical jokes and jokes, I think there’s a huge correlation between that and success.”

While off to a promising start, the Tahs have become a disaster in the last 12 months. They have lost several of their star players, which was epitomized last weekend by the rejection of Tahs. Ben Donaldson was instrumental in Western Force defeating them in Perth.

Captain Jake Gordon has been seeking an early release, while Wallabies such as Mark Nawaqanitawase, Lachie Swinton and Izzy Perese have decided to leave the club.

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