Larkham extends Brumbies contract

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Stephen Larkham will remain in his dual Brumbies and Wallabies roles for at least one more year, after signing a contract extension with the ACT franchise.

There was speculation that Larkham would have to decide whether to commit full-time to his duties as national coach or Brumbies head coach, but that will be put off until the end of next season now.

The former Wallabies flyhalf has been at the Brumbies' helm for the past two seasons, having shared the duties with Laurie Fisher prior to that, joining the Wallabies staff in 2015.

Both Larkham and Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey split their time between Super Rugby and Test duties, but a poor start to the year put that arrangement in the spotlight.

The announcement of Larkham's retention came at Friday night's Brumby Ball, after a long negotiation process that had been held up as the club dealt with player negotiations and an early-season board dispute.

Larkham said he felt the franchise was on the right track, though they will be starting from scratch next season after a handful of player departures.

“I’m very pleased to be sticking with the Brumbies,” he said.

“The Brumbies has been a part of my life for over 20 years now.

“We’ve come close the past few years and I really believe we are building something for the future. The attitude and quality of the players and program we have set up is superb.

Larkham has helped the Brumbies to four consecutive Super Rugby finals this season, with the side the sole Australian representative in this year's knockouts, though they were eliminated by the Highlanders in the quarter-finals.

The 42-year-old said he would ultimately have to make a choice between his franchise and the national job, something that would happen in the coming months.

“Signing a one-year deal allows us to get on with planning for the 2017 season,” Larkham said.

“I want to see the Brumbies win the Super Rugby title. Equally I want to do whatever I can to help the Wallabies win a World Cup.

“We came very close to achieving both those goals last year and I guess they are both real driving factors for me as a coach for the future.

“It’s obviously a tough decision to make on whether I want to continue in dual roles or focus primarily on one or the other. That is something I will sit down with my family and decide over the next few months.

“Right now I’m very happy to have extended my time at the Brumbies as head coach.”

Brumbies interim CEO Phil Thomson said Larkham's retention was a focus since he came on board and with his immediate future settled, the club could look towards the 2017 Super Rugby season.

“One of our priorities since the end of the season has been to ensure we are building for the future,” Thomson said.

“Obviously Stephen is a huge part of that given how much respect he has from players and coaches alike from around the world.

“We can look forward to 2017 now and start focusing on finalising our playing roster that Stephen and his coaching team will take charge of for next year.

“We will have a new-look side next season and we are all very excited for what is in store.

“We have an Australian Conference title to defend in 2017 and our goal will always remain to win the Super Rugby title.”

Larkham will re-join the Brumbies after the Wallabies Spring Tour, which finishes on December 3.