Wallabies door still open for Larkham after Munster move: Johnson

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson says Stephen Larkham's move to Irish club Munster will only help his long-term ambition to be Wallabies coach.

Subject to receiving a visa, Larkham will join the Irish province as a senior coach for three seasons starting in August and ending in June 2022, the Pro14 club confirmed overnight.

Larkham will work under coach Johann van Graan and alongside forwards coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach JP Ferreira at his new club.

Johnson said in a statement on Saturday afternoon that Larkham's move would be a positive one for his career.

Stephen Larkham and the Wallabies have queried Ireland's tactics. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Stephen departs with Rugby Australia's full blessing and we wish him every success with Munster," he said.

"Stephen made the decision to join Munster in full consultation with us and we will remain in close contact with him during his time in Ireland.

"We believe the experience Stephen will gain from a senior role internationally will grow his coaching capabilities significantly and we are very keen for him to remain part of the Australian Rugby coaching system.

"He has made it clear that his ultimate goal is to coach the Wallabies and the next three years will give him a solid platform to achieve his coaching ambitions."

The former Wallabies attack coach parted ways with the national team in February due to philosophical differences with coach Michael Cheika.

At that time, Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle kept the door open for Larkham to return to the Wallabies fold in the future.

While there was a school of thought that Larkham could throw his hat in the ring to return to the national setup, this move all but quashes that possibility in the immediate future.

Larkham has been in a national coaching advisory role for the past four months, working with the Junior Wallabies, Wallaroos, Sevens and Super Rugby sides.

He had been Wallabies attack coach for three seasons prior to that.

“I am very excited and honoured to be joining Munster Rugby," Larkham said in a statement.

“A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community. I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.

“I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I’m very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar.

“I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with not only the other coaches in Graham and JP but also the very talented group of players that Munster have.”

Munster Rugby Acting CEO Philip Quinn said: “We are very pleased to add Stephen to our coaching team and look forward to welcoming him to the province in August.

“Stephen’s values are very closely aligned with those of Munster and huge credit must go to the Professional Game Board and Johann for their work in bringing him to the province.

“Stephen is a very successful coach who had offers from other clubs so we are delighted that he has decided to join Munster.

“We now have a four-man coaching team with head coach Johann van Graan supported by senior coach Stephen, forwards coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach JP Ferreira.

“It has been our intention to recruit one more member for our coaching ticket and we will evaluate our needs prior to progressing with that process.” 

Larkham's Wallabies replacement is set to be named as early as next week, with a number of Super Rugby candidates in the mix for that role.