Ospreys forwards coach Chris Gibbes has confirmed that he will leave the region at the end of 2016/17 to become head coach at Wellington.
He will move to the Lions on a three-year deal ahead of the Mitre 10 Cup.
The 43-year-old former Waikato head coach, who has also worked within the New Zealand national age-grade structure as well as gaining international experience with Japan and Georgia, was appointed forwards coach at the Ospreys in the summer of 2013 and will have spent four years in Wales by the time he departs.
He says that the call of home, and the opportunity to take the reins at one of New Zealand’s leading provincial unions, was too good to pass up.
“I’ve been away from home for nearly four years now, so when this exciting opportunity came up it seemed like the right time for me. It was too good to turn down,” Gibbes told the Ospreys.
“Wellington are a province with a proud history and real ambition for the future, combined with excellent facilities and the squad depth needed to be successful, including some great young talent. That’s an exciting mix.
“Swansea has become very much my second home and I’ve loved every moment of my time with the Ospreys. I’m definitely a better coach and a better person thanks to my time in this environment, and I’ll always be grateful for he chance I’ve had to work with some quality people, but the pull of home was too strong.”
He added: “We’ve been through some tough times here over the last few years, but all with a long-term view to build something. We are starting to see the signs of that hard work coming through and I believe that this group can only continue heading in one way. I’m proud to have played a small part in that.
“I’m really excited about taking up the new challenge but that doesn’t start until June 1st. We are only halfway through the season here and there is a lot of rugby still to play. We are well placed to compete on several fronts and my focus between now and June is entirely on ensuring the Ospreys continue to lead the way. I want to finish on a high here, helping to bring the success that the players, coaches, management and supporters at the Ospreys all crave.”