Canberra - The Brumbies have secured their dream coaching combination after Jake White met George Gregan in Sydney on Thursday.
But while scrumhalf great Gregan will reunite with Stephen Larkham and tutor the next generation of playmakers, the Brumbies have conceded it is highly unlikely Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom will be in Canberra next year. New coach White is in Australia to start finalising his coaching staff and player recruitment and retention before he takes over from Tony Rea in July.
According to Rugby Heaven
correspondent Chris Dutton
, after White's meeting with Gregan, the coaching structure is now finalised. Gregan and Eddie Jones will act as consultant coaches with Larkham (backs) and Laurie Fisher (forwards) as White's full-time assistants.
The playing roster is less certain with at least six spots vacant and Elsom's future still unclear as he waits for his ARU deal to be complete.
However, the Brumbies' abundance of loose forwards is likely to lead to Elsom's departure. Stephen Hoiles, Ita Vaea, Fotu Auelua, Colby Faingaa and Peter Kimlin are already contracted for the 2012 season.
White wants to find players who add balance to the forwards he already has.
"We've got to have plans either way to make sure if he goes we're not going to be left high and dry and if he does want to stay whether he will complement the players we've got," White said.
"There's nothing I can do until he's (Elsom) happy with his ARU deal. The Brumbies cannot wait; we have to plan and control the things we can control."
The Brumbies - and all Australian Super Rugby teams - have to reduce their playing squads to 30 next season. Hoiles's future was dependant on a favourable medical report on his troublesome Achilles problem. But after White met club and Australian Institute of Sport medical staff, Hoiles will see out the final year of his contract with the Brumbies.
Gregan's return to the Brumbies - where he won two Super Rugby titles, in 2001 and 2004 alongside Larkham at flyhalf - is a massive boost to the franchise. Now White is hopeful the success the duo had as players will help inspire his squad to re-establish the Brumbies as a Super Rugby contender.
"I'm excited, things are falling into place," White said. "(Gregan) is really keen to be involved and he's sort of a quarterback coach there.
"He'll work with individual skills for nines and 10s and he formed one of the best No 9-10 combinations with (Larkham) in world rugby in their time together. It's about encouraging player involvement, understanding what the roles of a senior player are and just all the things that Gregan was really good at."
Gregan will start tutoring the Brumbies' halfbacks as soon as the end of the Super Rugby season when the players return to club rugby in Sydney. Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan said Gregan would stay based in Sydney.
"George will work with the guys in Sydney and then he'll be here for the pre-season," Fagan said. "He'll come down when required; that could be as often as every week or it could just be on call to have a chat with the No 9s over the phone when needed."