Larkham disappointed to miss World Cup, calls for Brumbies-heavy squad in Japan

Beth Newman Profile
by AAP & Beth Newman

Stephen Larkham says he is disappointed not to be part of the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign, and he hopes the conference-winning Brumbies will dominate the squad for the tournament.

Larkham was the Wallabies' attack coach at the 2015 World Cup and continued in the role until last year, when he departed the coaching staff due to differences in coaching philosophy with coach Michael Cheika.

The World Cup-winning fly-half moved into a role as national coaching advisor, working with the Junior Wallabies, Wallaroos and Sevens sides. 

Stephen Larkham in Darwin. Photo: WalmsleyLarkham was speaking to reporters in Darwin 100 days out from the Rugby World Cup, where he is currently on the Gold Blooded Tour; a 62-day road-trip around Australia run by the Classic Wallabies to generate buzz for the World Cup.

Asked if he was disappointed to miss the World Cup, Larkham replied: "Yeah, I've gone through that whole process."

"I jumped on board for the World Cup experience, so there's certainly disappointment in not being there, but there's new challenges that lie ahead."

The Wallabies have yet to announce a replacement for Larkham.

Larkham has watched the Super Rugby sides closely this year and been impressed with the performance of the Brumbies this season.

In recent years, the Waratahs have dominated national squads but Larkham said he hoped some ACT players were rewarded for their performance this season.

"If the Brumbies come through I would like to see a number of those Brumbies players as the bulk of the Wallabies team, because that will ultimately give you a combination that you need at that top level," he said.

Larkham said the Wallabies would have to buck an historic trend at this year’s World Cup after a disappointing 2018.

"No, I think if you look over the years, traditionally the teams that have won the World Cup had pretty good years the year before at the international level," Larkham said.

"We had a terrible year last year, so it is not a good track record so far.

"That is not to say that's going to be the case this year; I think if we get a good transfer from Super Rugby into the international arena and the boys click really quickly this year there's a very good chance we're going to win it."

Larkham is set to travel to Argentina to link up with the Junior Wallabies in the World Rugby U20s semi-finals before joining the Wallaroos ahead of their July Test matches.

But first it was a cage dive with ex-Wallabies forward Justin Harrison in a pool with saltwater crocodiles in the cage of death at Darwin's Crocosaurus Cove, with Larkham admitting to still having "jelly legs" half an hour afterwards.

"I was more concerned about 'Goog’s' (Harrison's) body than the croc. But I had a little bout of claustrophobia when I first got into the cage and that combined with the experience meant that I still have a few jelly legs at the moment," Larkham said.

"We’ve been to a number of schools - six schools - plus we had a little program last night out at the rugby field, and there were heaps of kids out there, from six all the way to And it’s been really good connecting with all the kids, there’s a lot of talent up here."

Harrison, who is the Classic Wallabies' general manager, said was aiming to bring the World Cup - or at least the replica version won in the Wallabies' 1999 victory - a little bit closer to all parts of Australia.

"We’re going to visit every state and territory in Australia with the World Cup and just build some of that momentum heading into the World Cup but also just remind people that it’s part of the Gold Blooded connectivity," he said.

"There’s a gold thread running through all of us whether you're a supporter, player, volunteer, mum or dad, boy or girl. Everyone’s a part of the rugby family and everyone deserves a chance to be part of the story."

The Rugby World Cup is 100 days away with Japan taking on Russia in the opening match on Friday September 20.



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