HERRIMAN — The Utah Warriors have a new head coach.
Former Australian international Chris Latham was named head coach of Utah’s top-level professional rugby side Tuesday, replacing Alf Daniels, who was fired in June.
A former professional rugby player at New South Wales Waratahs in Australia, Queensland Reds, English Premiership side Worcester Warriors, and Japanese club Kyuden Voltex, Lathan was Super Rugby’s player of the year in 2000, 2003 and 2004, and finished as the Reds’ all-time leading try scorer with 38.
Latham finished his international career with 40 tries, the second-most in Wallabies history, in a 10-year career that included three Rugby World Cup appearances.
He most recently spent 18 months coaching with the Samoan national team at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, and is excited to move to Utah with his wife and family.
"There's no hiding from it; the Warriors desperately want to be successful," Latham said in a statement. "I expect nothing less but the best out of myself and with the team of coaches we are assembling. I, too, am highly motivated for success. This will only come from hard work and full commitment by the players, the coaches and the entire Warriors organization. The harder we work, the greater the reward will be, so it is up to us as a coaching staff to provide the players the environment which will be able to live up to its full potential."
Daniels finished with a 5-19-2 record in two seasons at the helm of the Warriors, including a 2-12-2 mark in 2019 that ranked second-worst in the nine-team Major League Rugby. With expansion teams joining the league in Atlanta, Boston, and Washington, D.C., the club felt a need to hire a coach with veteran international experience into the 12-team, two-conference setup.
The new setup provided the Warriors with the chance to reboot the franchise, which will have other major announcements in the coming days, a source with first-hand knowledge of the terms confirmed to KSL.com.
"We couldn’t be more excited to have Chris lead the Warriors," Utah general manager and CEO Kimball Kjar said in a statement. "He was not only one of the world’s greatest players in his time, but more importantly he knows and lives the values that the Utah Warriors are built on. He’s going to be great for this community and will be an amazing mentor and leader to these players and coaches."