Stephen Larkham created one of the most iconic World Cup moments with his drop goal in the 1999 semi-final and his transition into coaching has come as no surprise to many teammates.
Wallabies centre Matt Giteau, who replaced Larkham briefly in the 2003 World Cup final and played alongside him at the Brumbies, said his analytical ability was always going to lend itself to a coaching role.
Larkham has found success as the Brumbies head coach and was a key target when Michael Cheika was appointed to the Wallabies job last year.
“He’s been very good. He’s not funny, he’s tried a few jokes which don’t work,” Giteau said.
“I think far as our structure and plays and dissecting the opposition he’s very smart.
“Even when he played he was good (at that).
“I knew this was a role he’d be good with.”
Giteau said there was one difference between Larkham the player and Larkham the coach.
“His communication,” he said.
“He used to be very quiet as a player but as a coach he speaks a lot. He gets his messages across well and as I said the way he dissects teams is, it’s a real pleasure to watch .
“The style he wants us to play is really pleasurable to play.”
“If you can see...an avenue you can profit that gives you confidence heading into a game and he’s very good at that.”
Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley, who has drawn on Larkham’s knowledge on a personal level , said his creativity was a major boost to the Wallabies’ attack.
“He’s got a really smart rugby mind and he looks at it from a really creative angle,” he said.
“We always want to be that type of team that we’re creative and we want to play a brand that’s exciting to play and Australians back home are proud of us and we’re entertaining,” he said.
“To that extent Stephen’s been really good. Cheika as well, he loves his quirky little moves as well so it’s good.
Larkham and defence coach Nathan Grey have both been reminders of the Wallabies’ World Cup successes, though both have been adamant that the 2015 journey is one in and of itself.
His big game experience and coolness under pressure is not dissimilar to Foley and the latter said they were drawing on that throughout the tournament.
“His calmness and how efficient he wants to play Test match rugby is what’s going to help us especially in these later stages of this tournament,” he said.
“They're guys have been there, they’ve experienced these types of moments and these types of games.
“All their knowledge that they pass on is going to be valuable for us.”