NSW coach refuses to blame Israel Folau for poor end to season

NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is refusing to blame fallout from the Israel Folau calamity for a Super Rugby campaign which is set to wind up this weekend, barring a miracle.

Gibson's men must upset the Highlanders on Friday, secure a bonus point in the process and hope other results go their way if they're to secure a finals berth.

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Mark Latham criticised the treatment of the Wallabies fullback. Source: Breakfast

Making their task even more treacherous is heavy rain forecast for Invercargill and Gibson's decision to abide by the Rugby Australia player welfare requirements.

It means 12th-placed NSW will be without Wallabies Michael Hooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Rob Simmons and Sekope Kepu, who are serving their second mandatory rest week.

Halfback Nick Phipps is promoted to captain in what is likely his final Super Rugby game before leaving for English club London Irish.

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Stevenson said the defence Folau was simply quoting the Bible doesn't work in today's society. Source: Breakfast

Phipps caused a stir on Sunday when opining that teammates had been left disappointed and distracted by the controversy surrounding Folau's homophobic social media post and the player's subsequent war with Rugby Australia over his contract termination.

However, Gibson was having none of it.

The Kiwi coach said while the impact of Folau's on-field absence was obvious, the players were professional enough to put any off-field drama to one side.

"Certainly it's been a dominating story and one that has taken up a lot of time, but it can never be an excuse for performance," Gibson said.

"We still have to go out there and perform our scrums, our lineouts, all elements of the game that you need to perform.

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An expert from Auckland University explores the issues created by the rugby player’s views. Source: Breakfast

"And when you look at those very close margins in the games we've just lost, it's usually because we haven't quite nailed a moment in the game, that we've lapsed.

"You can't attribute Israel to those moments."

Gibson took responsibility for the second-string nature of this week's team, conceding he had gambled by fielding his strongest side for last week's 35-24 loss to the Australian conference-winning Brumbies.

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Folau will argue under section 772 of the Fair Work Act he was wrongfully dismissed over his social media post. Source: Breakfast