The NSW Waratahs can confirm that Rob Simmons will depart the club at the completion of Vodafone Super Rugby AU to take up an opportunity overseas.
The 100-Test Wallaby joined the NSW Waratahs at the beginning of the 2018 after nine seasons with the Queensland Reds – including a Super Rugby Championship in 2011.
Re-signed in late 2019 before heading to his third Rugby World Cup, Simmons was appointed to the captaincy at the beginning of 2020, leading a young group of Waratahs through a tumultuous period in professional sport across the country and the world.
A product of Theodore in rural Queensland, Simmons has amassed 154 Super Rugby appearances (114 QLD and 40 NSW), alongside a string of representative honours stretching back to schoolboy rugby.
NSW Waratahs Head Coach, Rob Penney said that Simmons’ influence during his tenure at the club had been immeasurable.
“Rob’s an outstanding human being first and foremost, just one of those people you really enjoy having around your group,” Penney said.
“His leadership and influence over our squad has been outstanding to witness – particularly given the challenges we’ve all recently faced.
“As soon as I arrived at Daceyville it became pretty apparent that Rob was the sort of character that could lead this group through the season, it’s panned out a little differently [with COVID-19] to what we expected but he’s handled himself unbelievably well throughout.
“He leaves a real mark on this group with the experience he’s been able to impart on the next generation of Waratah and while we’re sad to see him go, we understand what a great opportunity this is for Simmo and his young family.”
Simmons said it was a decision that he considered at length and after much deliberation, felt the time was right to move onto a new challenge in his career.
“It was a really tough decision [to leave] but after speaking with many people around me, I felt that now was the time to take the opportunity to play overseas,” Simmons said.
“Timing with situations like this can’t always be perfect, but the Waratahs have been fantastic in understanding my desire to take on a new challenge.
“I’ve loved my time in Super Rugby and the last few years with the Waratahs, it’s a wonderful organisation and it’s been an honour to lead this group throughout 2020.
“My teammates and our management team have been tremendous over the last few years, there’s a lot to be excited about here in New South Wales and I’m looking forward to seeing it unfold from afar.”
NSWRU General Manager of Rugby, Tim Rapp congratulated Simmons on the contribution he’d made to the NSW Waratahs in his three seasons at Daceyville.
“Rob has been a really important signing for us since he arrived in 2018,” Rapp said.
“He’s been a role model, super consistent in his performance on field and a great ambassador for our game off it – the contribution he’s made to our game over more than a decade has been exceptional.
“As much as we’d love Rob to stay, you have to appreciate the opportunity that’s been placed in front of him – it’s [playing overseas] one of the great things our game has to offer.
“Everyone here at the Waratahs only has the upmost respect for Simmo and we all wish him the very best in the next chapter of his career.”