Stephen Ferris: Jono Gibbes a 'tremendous' catch for Ulster

Ulster Rugby head coach Neil Doak is a former Ireland cricket international and once took the wicket of West Indies legendary batsman Brian Lara
Ulster Rugby head coach Neil Doak is a former Ireland cricket international and once took the wicket of West Indies legendary batsman Brian Lara

Stephen Ferris is excited about the new coaching ticket at Ulster Rugby but says the service given by Neil Doak and Allen Clarke should not be forgotten.

Former All Black Jono Gibbes and ex-Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel will join the coaching staff for next season.

The appointments signal the departure of current coaches Doak and Clarke.

"I do feel sorry for them after the time and effort they've put in," Ferris said, "Neil has given 24 years' service and a lot of people forget that".

Perfect timing

Ferris told BBC Sport NI that he believes the timing of the high-profile signings will appease supporters who were disgruntled watching the team lose nine out of 13 matches prior to last week's Pro12 win over Edinburgh.

"There was a lot of speculation about who would be going and coming and inside the camp, the word coming out was that things were a little bit unsettled.

"This has been bubbling away and I'm pretty confident that Neil and Allen knew for the last three or four months that they weren't going to be part of Les Kiss' bigger picture.

"Naming the new coaches so early, with a good bit of the season to go, seems like taking the pressure off because the players haven't been performing.

"Sometimes you need new faces, new voices, new ideas, and maybe it will be a masterstroke and these guys will bring Ulster Rugby forward because for me, since 2012, the team has been going backwards.

"But it's important to remember that someone like Neil Doak was involved when we got to a Heineken Cup final in 2012 and a league final at the RDS in 2013. People forget that very very quickly when the team is not doing so well."

Allen Clarke has held various roles within the Ulster and Irish coaching set-up and is currently Ulster's assistant coach
Allen Clarke has held various roles within the Ulster and Irish coaching set-up and is currently Ulster's assistant coach

Ferris said some supporters are confused over the coaching staff's job titles, leading to mis-interpretation about Doak's role.

"His title is head coach but he's not really - Les Kiss is the head coach even though his title is Director of Rugby.

"Les does 75 per cent of the coaching on the pitch.

"Not everyone understands that and because of it, a lot of press and fans have got on Doak's back."

Gibbes, 40, will arrive at Kingspan Stadium with a stellar CV as a player and coach.

He is currently forwards coach at Clermont Auvergne and previously helped Leinster to three Heineken Cups in an impressive coaching career.

Jono Gibbes
Jono Gibbes helped Leinster to three Heineken Cup triumphs during six years with the Irish side

Ferris stated: "he is a real hard-edged forwards coach, an All Black, and I think he will be tremendous".

"There needs to be a harder edge brought to this forward pack and he will be very good.

"Dwayne Peel was a bit left-field, I didn't expect that, because he only retired a couple of years ago.

"He obviously wasn't on Pat Lam's radar at Bristol for next season and perhaps Ulster thought someone new coming in would bring a bit of fresh blood.

"He's not long out of the game so he is a little bit unknown, with not a lot of experience.

"Having world-class coaches like Jono and Les will make the players better and hopefully help the team win trophies."

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