NSW Waratahs stalwarts Daryl Gibson and Michael Hooper are preparing for a milestone match when they line up against the Sunwolves on Saturday in Tokyo, with both marking a 50th milestone with the Tahs.
For Gibson, it will be his 50th occasion as Head Coach of the NSW Waratahs while 27-year-old Hooper is set to Captain his 50th NSW Waratahs side.
Both stepping into their respective leadership roles in 2016, Gibson and Hooper’s partnership has ridden the sporting waves of success and challenges, with their biggest payoff coming in 2018 when they helped turn the Tahs from an average 2017 season.
Gibson joined the NSW Waratahs in 2013 as Assistant Coach before taking over the top job in 2016, recently committing through until end 2020.
He is not only committed to helping usher through the next generation of New South Wales talent, but investing in the systems and coaches that support rugby in the State.
“One of the things in the Club we’ve been trying do is to build stability within our coaching ranks and our playing ranks. It’s a nice milestone it will be even nicer if we can get the win,” said Gibson.
The long serving NSW Waratahs Coach said he was pleased to share the milestone alongside the Captain.
“Michael has developed into a world class leader. For me to be able to see to him grow and develop in that role has been a real privilege… every year he wants to be better.
“We work in tandem and we work hard to ensure we’re aligned and heading in the right direction,” he said.
A product of the Manly Marlins and five-time winner of the NSW Waratahs Matt Burke Cup (Player’s Player award), Hooper admitted the 50 cap milestone as captain has come around quickly.
“It’s great for Daryl to have that time in the saddle and get a squad in that he really wants and we’re starting to see the benefits of that,” said Hooper
Looking ahead to the Sunwolves clash, Hooper said another week in will be good for building the combinations.
“I know we didn’t get the first win last week but we certainly put ourselves with a chance to win it for the majority of the game with shots right there at the end. Looking forward to building on a decent platform,” he said.
Gibson and Hooper will be hopeful their side can bounce back from a narrow loss in round one as they head to Tokyo ahead of the Sunwolves clash.
It’s a relatively unchanged side from round one, with Kurtley Beale coming back to the starting line up at 12, with Karmichael Hunt moving to 13.
Adam Ashley Cooper (AAC) and Cam Clark will both travel to Japan named as the 23rd man, as AAC undergoes return to play protocols. Final decision on who will take that final place on the bench, will be decided ahead of Saturday's match.
NSW WARATAHS TEAM FOR ROUND TWO
1 HARRY JOHNSON-HOLMES
2 DAMIEN FITZPATRICK
3 SEKOPE KEPU
4 JED HOLLOWAY
5 ROB SIMMONS
6 NED HANIGAN
7 MICHAEL HOOPER
8 JACK DEMPSEY
9 JAKE GORDON
10 BERNARD FOLEY
11 CURTIS RONA
12 KURTLEY BEALE
13 KARMICHAEL HUNT
14 ALEX NEWSOME
15 ISRAEL FOLAU
16. TOLU LATU
17. RORY O’CONNOR
18. CHRIS TALAKAI
19. LACHLAN SWINTON
20. WILL MILLER
21. MITCH SHORT
22. MACK MASON
23. CAM CLARK/ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER*
*Dependent on return to play protocols.