Ben Mowen backs Stephen Larkham
September 26, 2013
Ben Mowen and Jake White had a close working relationship © Getty Images
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has backed Stephen Larkham to replace Jake White as Brumbies head coach, saying the team's attack coach and forwards coach Laurie Fisher both "have been a huge driving factor in the performance and take so much of the sessions that if it was to be in that direction it would be reasonably seamless for the group".
"I would think between Bernie [Larkham] and Laurie that there's more than enough experience and direction there," Mowen said in Cape Town, where he will play for Australia against South Africa in The Rugby Championship on Saturday.
Larkham has been an assistant coach since 2011, while Fisher was the Brumbies' head coach from 2005-2008.
"It's just a matter of getting on and doing the job now, we've got a good base program under us. We've just got to get to the next level," Larkham told Fairfax Media. "I guess there's the time when you're not sure if you're ready or not. No time is better than now. As soon as you get in you learn from your mistakes sooner, you understand how it works and in the long run you become a better coach."
Stephen Larkham has made a strong impression as Brumbies attack coach © Getty Images
Fisher, regarded as the best technical forwards coach in Australia, told Fairfax: "We work extremely well together and we've got similar ideas on where the Brumbies need to go. "Whichever way [the Brumbies] decide to go, I think I'm more than capable of doing the job as I think Stevie is. If the board and the CEO decide they'd rather keep that continuity, whichever way it goes I'm sure we'd both be happy with it."
White sensationally quit the Brumbies post with two years remaining on his contract, just two months after leading Canberra's Super Rugby franchise to the 2013 Super Rugby final and presiding over their historic 14-12 win over the British & Irish Lions. He decided that his future lay back in Cape Town near his two sons after he was overlooked in July for the Wallabies head coach role having been invited by the Australian Rugby Union to apply.
White, who coached the Springboks to Rugby World Cup 2007 glory, had confided in his Brumbies captain over the past few weeks. Mowen said that he hoped initially to convince White to change his mind but then understood the coach's perspective after the pair met in Cape Town on Wednesday.
"His importance has shifted and it's shifted to focusing on reconnecting with his two boys, Wes and Clint," Mowen said.
"That balanced with the fact that the Brumbies program he leaves is in a really good space, and he's probably fast-tracked what he would have liked to have achieved over a four-year period into two."
As well as taking the Brumbies from competition easy-beats to Australian conference champions in two seasons, White has helped launch the Test careers of a number of players - including Mowen.
"I definitely agree that the Brumbies program is in a really good spot," Mowen said. "We missed out on the finals last year by a point and made the final this year. In the two years that Jake's had the team, it's gone from having three Wallabies to 15 or so - and he's done an enormous amount for those guys' careers to put that in place."
© AAP with ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton