Daryl Gibson confirmed the Waratahs are close to adding giant South African lock Le Roux Roets to their 2019 roster as the coach also endorsed plans to manage workloads of his stars during the World Cup year.
A newspaper report in South Africa last week revealed the Tahs had recruited Roets, a 200cm, 135kg lock who is currently playing for the Pumas in the Currie Cup.
The 23-year-old is a former rising junior-age forward of South African rugby who left to play for Racing Metro, alongside Dan Carter, for the 2016-17 season.
Roets reportedly turned down Toulon to return to South Africa and play for the Pumas.
“We are keen on filling that spot, that lock, and we are searching for that profile of lock where we want to add a bit of size to us,” Gibson said.
“We believe we have found that person and are due to announce to that shortly.”
The Waratahs are no doubt keen to replicate the abrasive impact of Jacques Potgieter but they have a somewhat mixed history with South African recruits, having also brought over the less impactful Hendrik Roodt.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse said of Roets: “He has all the qualities and work ethic that are needed to become a Springbok. He is an aggressive player. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
The Waratahs’ deal with Roets is not yet finalised but the Pretoria-raised big man told Rapport he was on his way.
“He told me they needed a player of my size,” Roets told the Afrikaans-language paper.
“They are looking for someone who can come across the advantage line.”
Adding quality depth to the Waratahs squad is a priority of Gibson after a post-2018 season review threw up the fact they’d relied too much on their top players, and subsequently ended up being “gassed” in the semi-finals.
Gibson is therefore also a big supporter of proposed plans to manage the workloads of key Wallabies in 2019 to ensure they’re not burned out by the World Cup.
Two of Gibson’s stars – Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale – looked weary for Australia on the recent Spring Tour, and little wonder.
Foley played only missed 22 minutes of the Waratahs’ 18-game campaign, and Beale played all but 87 minutes of the Super season. With Wallabies games after that, Foley finished playing 31 games in 2018 and Beale played 30.
“On the managing load of our top players, 100 per cent I agree with that intent,” Gibson said.
“One of the review findings of our own season back in August was we played our best players too much. Of all the Super franchises we used the least number of players.
“We used 34 players and the Crusaders used 44. So that shows us straight away as a stategy we need to increase the depth of our squad and trust our players can do the job.
“That’s why we are in a situation where Bernard and KB have extremely high minutes. 100 per cent we know we have to manage them better this year.
“It’s trying to get the best out of them and manage them correctly and that’s probably been our biggest learning, in how we do that really well.
“KB is in excess of 30 games now and you can’t expect a player to be at his absolute best in each of those 30 games. It’s a big ask of a player and we know if we want to get the best out of them we have to manage them better.”