Stephen Larkham has expressed his openness to coaching the Wallabies but has clarified that he has not had any discussions with Rugby Australia (RA) regarding replacing Eddie Jones. Larkham, who was part of the 1999 World Cup-winning team, was evasive when asked about his interest in the role, but did admit that he was eager to assist Australian rugby in any way he could.
Larkham, who is currently the coach of the ACT Brumbies, is considered to be one of the leading contenders for the position after Jones abruptly left the Wallabies just 10 months into his five-year contract last month. "I'm definitely interested in contributing to rugby in Australia," Larkham stated. "Our organization has a strong philosophy in place to ensure that we are developing the sport. So I would love to be involved in improving our results and the growth of the sport overall."
However, Larkham made it clear that RA has not contacted him regarding the vacant coaching position since Jones' hasty departure. "Both RA and I have been busy with other matters recently, and I am completely focused on my current role," Larkham explained. "We have made a number of changes to our coaching staff since the end of the Super Rugby season, and we have been meticulously planning for the future. Our aim is to build on last year's performance, and I have been fully dedicated to this program."
Larkham, who previously served as the Wallabies' attack coach from 2015 to 2019 before spending three years with Irish side Munster, is considered a top candidate for the position alongside former ACT Brumbies boss Dan McKellar. However, RA is not expected to rush into appointing Jones' successor.
Australia's disappointing campaign at the recent Rugby World Cup in France, where they failed to advance from the group stage for the first time ever, remains a sore point for Larkham. Reflecting on the disastrous tournament, he acknowledged how challenging it can be, pointing out the narrow winning margins of eventual champions South Africa. "They secured victory in their last three matches by just one point each time, and that could have easily swung the other way due to a refereeing decision or a single mistake," Larkham remarked. "There were instances where a different referee call or fewer errors could have completely altered the Wallabies' narrative."
Larkham also shared his understanding of Jones' strategy to bring together a younger group of players in an attempt to achieve unexpected success. "There was potential for us to accomplish something great," he mentioned.
In conclusion, Larkham's interest in coaching the Wallabies is evident, but he has not been approached by RA regarding the vacant position. Both he and the organization have been preoccupied with their respective responsibilities, and Larkham remains focused on his current role with the ACT Brumbies. RA is expected to take its time in selecting the new coach following Eddie Jones' departure.