Jono Gibbes took charge on Ulster on 31 January after Les Kiss’ departure

Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes will become Waikato boss in his native New Zealand when he leaves the Irish province at the end of this season.

On Friday, Ulster said Gibbes would be departing from the province for family reasons after the Pro14 campaign.

Gibbes, 41, played 64 games for the New Zealand provincial club between 2000 and 2007 before being appointed as Leinster’s forward coach a year later.

The Ulster coach described his Waikato appointment as an “honour”.

“With the opportunity comes the responsibility to do the colours justice. That has to be the first objective for myself and for the 2018 team,” Gibbes told the Waikato website.

The Waikato team are distinct from the Chiefs Super Rugby team who also play their home games in Hamilton.

Waikato compete in the New Zealand provincial competition the Mitre 10 Cup and which will start a number of weeks after the completion of the Pro14 season.

The club’s chief executive Blair Foote said Gibbes would bring a “wealth of experience and successful coaching knowledge to the position”.

Speaking on Friday, Ulster’s director of operations Bryn Cunningham said that a genuine family matter meant Gibbes would be leaving the Irish province and that he would aiming to get a coaching position in his native New Zealand.

Gibbes only took charge of team matters little over a month ago after the departure of Ulster’s director of rugby Les Kiss.

Ulster appointed Gibbes to his head coach role under Kiss for this season after he had a three-year spell as part of Clermont Auvergne’s coaching team.

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