NSW Waratahs captain Rob Simmons will be departing the club for overseas opportunities at the end of the Super Rugby AU season, the team confirmed on Friday.
A 100-Test Wallaby veteran, Simmons joined the Waratahs at the beginning of the 2018 season after nine seasons with the Queensland Reds - including winning the 2011 Super Rugby title.
Simmons has been linked with a move to English Premiership club London Irish where he's expected to form an all-Australian second row with Wallaby Adam Coleman.
Earning 40 Super Rugby caps with the Tahs, Simmons helped the Tahs reach the 2018 Super Rugby semi-final, but has since seen little success with the club after they failed to reach the finals and finished 12th on the combined table.
After Michael Hooper stepped down from the captaincy role in 2020, Simmons took over the reins for a young side that saw just one win before COVID-19 saw the end of the Super Rugby season, while his team have secured just one win in three matches of Super Rugby AU.
His experience and leadership has played a huge role for the young squad Tahs coach Rob Penney said following the announcement. "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.
"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."
After over a decade in Australian rugby, Simmons said now was the time to take his career overseas.
"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."