Larkham backs Brumbies to return stronger
Canberra - The Brumbies' 35-16 defeat to the Hurricanes on
home soil in Friday's Super Rugby quarter-final was a tough way to end their
campaign but outgoing coach Stephen Larkham has forecast a bright future for
the Canberra side.
The Brumbies fell to the reigning champions at Canberra
Stadium for the first time in seven years, the defeat ending Australia's
involvement in the competition two weeks early.
Larkham departs to focus on his assistant coaching role with
the Wallabies full-time and leaves the Brumbies with a sound record, having
guided them to the playoffs in each of his three seasons in charge from 2015-17
and as part of a co-coaching set-up with Laurie Fisher in 2014.
Following the departure of a raft of seasoned players at the
end of last season, the Brumbies were widely expected to slide out of
contention for this year's playoffs.
In the end, a modest 6-9 win-loss record was enough to top
the struggling Australian conference and capture an automatic berth into the
"I think they said that we were going to come fourth in
the Australian conference," a defiant Larkham told local media.
"We certainly achieved a few things this year and put
ourselves in a really strong position for next year.
"Some guys are moving on from the squad this year but
we'll get some new faces in there."
Following on from Larkham's rise to head coach after serving
as an assistant to Jake White, incoming coach Dan McKellar has also been
promoted from within.
Former head coach Fisher will return to Canberra as forwards
coach after an ill-fated stint at English Premiership club Gloucester.
McKellar and Fisher will welcome back David Pocock next
season after the world class flanker took a year's sabbatical and they will
also hope to see more of former Wallabies playmaker Christian Lealiifano.
After being diagnosed with leukaemia less than a year ago,
Lealiifano played the second half off the bench against the Hurricanes but
there was to be no fairytale return against the New Zealanders, who sealed the
match with two late tries to set up a semi-final against either the Lions or
The Brumbies face another exodus of big names, including
former Wallabies blindside flank Scott Fardy and wing Joe Tomane, while
Argentina scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli and backrowers Jarrad Butler and Jordan
Smiler will also depart.
However, fans will be buoyed by the development of a pair of
young talents in fullback Tom Banks and scrumhalf Joe Powell, who made his
Wallabies debut in June.
Finding new avenues to score will be foremost on the minds
of the Brumbies' staff.
Even with the extra game played for the quarterfinal, the
Brumbies' total of 43 tries ranked them third of the five teams in the
Australian conference and a far cry from the output of any of the dominant New
The Hurricanes have scored 93 – and counting.