Larkham completes Brumbies transformation


From lanky fullback, to playmaking great, to head coach.


Stephen Larkham’s remarkable 17-year Brumbies career has evolved once more.

Australia’s most distinguished modern day five-eighth was on Friday given the reins of the Brumbies alongside Laurie Fisher, who was made the Super Rugby club’s director of rugby in a dual coaching structure.

The appointments follow the shock resignation of South African-born World Cup-winning coach Jake White in September, who left a month after taking the side to the Super Rugby final.

Larkham started his career with the Brumbies in their inaugural season in 1996, going on to make his Test debut from the bench later that year as an outside back.

Just one year earlier he had been plucked out of reserve grade rugby in Canberra.

“I was lucky enough to get a contract,” the 39-year-old said on Friday.

“The Brumbies are a big part of my history. They’re my family, I’ve grown up in this culture.”

After flourishing into the No.10 jersey following a Rod Macqueen selection masterstroke, Larkham went on to claim more than 100 caps for both the Brumbies and the Wallabies, winning two Super Rugby titles and a World Cup along the way.

And having been the Brumbies’ backs coach for the past two seasons, it comes as no surprise he’ll have more authority over the team’s overall attacking philosophies.

“Nothing is going to change in terms of how we run the team,” Larkham said.

“Off the field, it’s going to be the same. Laurie spoke to the forwards, I spoke to the backs.”

As head coach, Larkham will now have greater input and involvement with the overall organisation of the team and play a bigger part in recruitment and weekly selections.

The style he’s expected to bring to the side was applauded by rival Super Rugby coach Michael Cheika on Friday.

“I rate Larkham very highly and I was surprised he didn’t get the job outright himself,” the NSW Waratahs coach said.

“He has great credibility, he understands the attacking game and I think we’ll see the Brumbies in his image and a little bit more expansive.”

However Larkham stressed he won’t be a one-man-band, indicating there would be plenty of input from Fisher, as well as an assistant coach yet to be appointed.

“There’s robust discussions, and you put in your arguments to one another. It’s whoever argues the best point really,” he said.

“We’re fairly logical sort of men.”

Fisher, who was Brumbies head coach from 2005-08, is a club stalwart himself, having been involved in the club for the past 15 years.

He’ll control day-to-day rugby operations with elements such as staffing, program development, talent pathways and training structures, as well as continuing to focus on the forwards, the breakdown and the tackle contest.

Fisher said the key to making the partnership work would be communication.

“Whether it’s a marriage, or whether it’s a rugby program, if you’re not talking about it, you’re going to struggle,” he said.

To which Larkham quipped: “We’ve been in the engagement, and now we’re married.”

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