Gruff Rees: Ospreys coach departs with Matt Sherratt to replace him

Matt Sherratt
Matt Sherratt coached at Bristol before joining Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues backs and attacks coach Matt Sherratt has signed a three-year deal to become Ospreys backs coach from the 2018-19 season.

Sherratt will replace Gruff Rees, who is leaving after a 13-year stint at the Swansea-based region.

Blues head coach Danny Wilson will also leave at the end of the season.

Sherratt turned down two-year contract extension at the Arms Park in August, 2017, having joined from Bristol the previous summer.

The 41-year-old former teacher was the temporary Wales backs coach for the 2016 autumn Tests.

He was seconded to the national side while Rob Howley was in charge, when Warren Gatland was on 2017 British and Irish Lions tour duty.

Blues have narrowed down their search for a new head coach to a shortlist of three, while a replacement for Sherratt will also need to be found.

Rees' departure is not unexpected, with coach Steve Tandy telling the BBC in October that his future was unclear.

Appointed backs coach in February 2012 Rees also served the Ospreys as WRU academy skills coach before also also taking responsibility for skills development within the senior squad.

"I've been talking to Steve (Tandy) since last year about the future direction of the Ospreys, about what this group needs and about my own hopes and aspirations, even when we were in the middle of a positive run of performances and results," Rees explained.

"I'm very aware that I've been in this environment for a long time and have been on the field talking to some of the squad for 10 years or more, particularly those I worked with when they were coming through on the development pathway. That's a long time for them to be hearing my voice and for me to be talking to the same people.

"I believe that this is the right call for all parties, allowing Steve to bring in a fresh voice and for me to take on a new challenge that will stretch me and allow me to continue developing."

Tandy paid tribute to Rees, commenting: "Gruff has been amazing in and around the Ospreys environment for so long and has contributed immensely to the cause.

"He's played a huge part in the development of so many players who have gone on to represent the Ospreys, Wales and the Lions, and has been immense in terms of the support he has given me personally.

"We've been talking for a long time about the future, we've spoken frankly about the situation, and been completely honest about expectations and what the best next step for everybody is."

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