Assistant coach, Niall Malone, hopes the rumours circulating about Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes being targeted for an Australian coaching job are untrue.
It was claimed in the Sydney Herald in New Zealand on Monday that Gibbes was favourite among a number of candidates being muted for the role of set piece coach with Michael Cheika’s Australia.
Gibbes has taken over the leadership of the Ulster coaching team since the departure of director of rugby, Les Kiss, and the 41-year-old still has another year on his current contract.
Asked yesterday about the speculation, Malone admitted he would be “absolutely gutted if there was any truth in it, I really really mean that.”
He said: “ I didn’t know Jono eight months ago and the two of us get on really well, so that’s a personal thing, but the influence he has on the players.
“If he stays it’s going to be so successful, and I really hope the speculation is just that.
“Fake news. Often it isn’t, but I can’t comment on that. I’m just really hopeful he’ll be here for a long time,” he added.
Malone admitted that he had sent a text to Gibbes asking him ‘what was going on there then?’
“He was laughing and denying it, so hopefully it’s a fake rumour but we don’t know.
“A lot of people come and go, and you get bonded with the individuals because people see them as just coaches.
“I think I’m on my third or fourth head coach in six years so I’m aware my head’s not on the parapet, I’m ducked away safely somewhere most of the time.
“Because we’re preparing to win games, since Les has gone, he’s been a big influence, we had to focus on beating the Kings when we heard he was gone.
“You don’t linger on talking about who’s left, you focus on beating the Kings and then the next game and the next game, and it all moves very fluidly and fast. There’s been a bit of change, and hopefully we’ll have some stability now.”