Former Waratahs coach Michael Foley says he left the club with a "heavy heart" after defecting to the Western Force with two years still to run on his contract.
Foley handed in his resignation on Tuesday and was unveiled as the Force's new director of coaching less than 24 hours later. His decision came as a disappointment to senior Waratahs players including captain Benn Robinson, while former Waratahs stalwart and commentator Phil Kearns described Foley's exit as "pretty poor".
"The last two days for me have been very hard. I've been heavy-hearted," said Foley, who has signed a three-year deal with the Force.
"It's not easy to leave a team you love coaching, but the players and the management of that team and the people that are close to me understand the reasons for that, and I probably don't want to go into that here.
"I was under contract. There was a termination clause in my contract which I decided to exercise, and I think it was a difficult decision."
Asked if his departure from the Tahs had become messy, Foley said: "No. I think [I left on] pretty good terms. The decision for me has been something that I've probably anguished over for a couple of weeks.
"The CEO there, Jason Allen, has been aware of that. From the day after we finished playing against the Reds I discussed the possibility of this with him."
Foley claims he is energised by the chance to rebuild a Force franchise currently in disarray following the departure of skipper David Pocock to the Brumbies.
"I think it's an exciting opportunity to build a programme around this team. There's some very good guys here," he said. "[It's about] making sure that we have a programme that sustains itself.
"By the time I leave here hopefully there's a little bit more of a defined footprint to how we go about doing our business on and off the field. I think the opportunity to bring my family here from a personal perspective and to be secure here for the next three years is obviously pretty exciting as well."