Experienced New Zealander Rob Penney has been confirmed as the man to coach the NSW Waratahs for the next three Super Rugby seasons, with a mandate to develop an Australian successor.
Penney’s appointment was announced at a hotel in Tokyo, where he has been based for the past five years as head coach of the NTT Communications Shining Arcs.
The 55-year-old replaces fellow Kiwi Daryl Gibson, who resigned in June after overseeing a disappointing 2019 campaign.
NSW Rugby Union chief executive Andrew Hore said the position attracted “a vast level of interest from across world rugby” but Penney was appointed on the basis of his experience and ability to develop coaches.
Hore was aware of a desire in NSW for an Australian to hold the post and said there weren’t yet local coaches with the experience required.
He expected that situation to be remedied by the end of Penney’s tenure, promising there would be a home-grown succession plan.
Like Gibson, Penney has a strong Canterbury connection, having coached the provincial side to four New Zealand straight domestic titles.
He was reportedly disgruntled when he missed out on the Crusaders head coach role in 2011, when the departing Robbie Deans was replaced by Todd Blackadder.
Penney left for two successful seasons in charge of European powerhouses Munster where he forged a no-nonsense reputation.
He turned down the option of a third season in Ireland and signed a long-term deal with Japanese Top League club NTT Communications Shining Arcs which finished this year.
Penney said the appointment was an honour.
“To be given the opportunity to help this playing group get the most out of both themselves as individuals and as a collective is an exciting one,” he said.
“Ultimately, I want our players to represent the jersey with pride and ensure New South Wales continues to be a leader in Australian rugby.”