CALLUM Gibbins will leave Glasgow Warriors at the end of the season after three years as a key member of Dave Rennie’s squad.

The back-row forward

from New Zealand was an early signing by his compatriot, and the head coach paid a warm tribute to him yesterday after his departure was announced.

“Callum has had a massive impact since his arrival and leaves a lasting impression,” Rennie said of the 31-year-old, who has been his joint captain along with Ryan Wilson for the past two seasons. “A high-quality man, he is hugely respected by peers and staff alike.

“Cully would hate me saying this, but he has been the perfect Warrior. His work ethic and attention to detail on and off the pitch makes him an outstanding role model. Superbly conditioned, competitive and intelligent, his point of difference is his ability to become a different creature and bring a brutal edge every time he crosses the paint.”

Gibbins, who joined Glasgow from the Hurricanes, had previously played for Rennie and assistant coach Jason O’Halloran at Manawatu. He was the third player to sign for the 2017-18 season after centre Huw Jones and prop Oli Kebble, but that common background plus the qualities of which Rennie spoke meant that the flanker was often seen as the on-field eyes and ears of the coaching team, doing all he could to inculcate a spirit of indomitability in the squad. That role was all the more vital during the international windows, when Wilson and other senior Scottish players were away on Test duty.

Gibbins’ departure had been on the cards for some time. Interviewed last November, he said that nothing had been decided beyond this current season, but also dropped a hint that he would be on his way around the same time as his coach. “I’m here until the same time as Rens,” he said then. “What happens beyond that I’m unsure of. But I love Glasgow at the moment: I’ve carved out a life for myself there, enjoying the city and the people and have made some really good friends.”

Were he to sign on for another year, Gibbins would become eligible for Scotland on residential grounds, but admitted in the autumn that such an eventuality had never really been part of his thinking. “My whole dream was to play for the All Blacks,” he added. “I knew when I left New Zealand that dream of international rugby was going to be over. Never once did I think I wanted to play for another country as badly as I want to play for the All Blacks.

“I’m always going to be an All Blacks fan and know a lot of the guys in that team. It’s hard to sit here and say I wouldn’t be interested in it [Scotland], but it’s not at the forefront of my mind.”

As Rennie pointed out, away from the playing field, Gibbins was involved in a variety of ventures, including Scrumbags, the rock group he was in along with a number of team-mates. “He genuinely cares about his team-mates, is very generous with his time for fans and prominent in a variety of community projects,” the coach added. “Having a lead role in the Scrumbags, the team band that raised over £10,000 for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, is one such example of this. Thanks for your contribution over the past three seasons Cully, and we wish you and Meg all the best as you head into the next stage of life.”

Gibbins has yet to confirm what he plans to do next, although a return to New Zealand would be no surprise. He made 46 appearances for the Warriors.