Ulster coach Gibbes returns home to NZ

London - Head coach Jono Gibbes will leave provincial side Ulster at the end of the season to return to his native New Zealand, the Northern Ireland-based PRO14 side announced on Friday.

"Being a long way from home for the last 10 years has made me prioritise things above my career and so I'll be returning at the end of this season for family reasons," said the 41-year-old, who only joined the club last year.

"The decision to leave here is a difficult one professionally because I support the team and the staff and I am excited for what the future holds for them.

"I believe there are enough passionate and professional people involved to build on the existing strong foundations of the club."

Operations director Bryn Cunningham said: "While it's clearly disappointing to lose a coach of Jono's experience and quality, we fully understand and support his decision as family must always come first."

"A review of the coaching structure is ongoing and the desired outcome of this will be to provide us with a strong, well-balanced coaching team and some long-term stability," he added.

Ulster, based in Belfast, are currently outside the playoff places in Conference B of the PRO14.