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Rugby union great Stephen Larkham open to vacant Wallabies coaching job

Stephen Larkham is open to coaching the Wallabies but says he has had no discussions with Rugby Australia about replacing Eddie Jones. The 1999 World Cup-winning great was coy when asked about his interest in the role on Thursday, but admitted he was keen to help Australian rugby in any way he could.

The ACT Brumbies coach is viewed as one of the leading contenders to fill the vacancy left by Jones when he walked out on the Wallabies just 10 months into a five-year deal last month.

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“I’m certainly interested in trying to help rugby in Australia,” Larkham said on Thursday.

“We’ve got a real philosophy here to make sure we are growing the game as an organisation. So however I can help in terms of improving our results and improving our growth within the sporting arena, I’d love to be involved.”

But Larkham, who is two years into his second stint in charge of the Brumbies, said he had taken no calls from RA in the wake of Jones’ calamitous tenure.

“We’ve sort of got a fair bit on, RA have got a fair bit on at the moment and I’m very focused here on my job,” Larkham said.

“We’ve got a number of changes here with our staff since Super Rugby finished, so there’s been a really good planning period here with the coaches. We’re looking to go one better from last year … I’ve been heavily focused here on this program.”

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Along with former ACT boss Dan McKellar, Larkham – a former Wallabies assistant under Michael Cheika – looks a front-runner for the job, although RA isn’t expected to rush to name Jones’ replacement.

Larkham was the Wallabies’ attack coach between 2015 and 2019, before a three-year stint at Irish side Munster. McKellar worked under former national team boss Dave Rennie until he resigned to take a job with Leicester earlier this year.

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The Wallabies failed to progress from the group stage for the first time ever at a Rugby World Cup last month in France. Asked for his reflections on the disastrous campaign, Larkham said the progress of eventual-champions South Africa showed how difficult a tournament it is.

“They won the last three games by one point – that’s a refereeing decision, that’s one bad mistake, and it changes the fortunes of the team. You could argue there are a few of those refereeing decisions, or bad mistakes that could have changed the whole narrative of the Wallabies,” Larkham said.

“I understood Eddie’s philosophy there in terms of bringing the younger group together and seeing if we can jag something … there was potential we were going to do that.”

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