Eddie Jones adds spice to Aussie Super Rugby teams, says Larkham
NEWS: Former Wallaby and returning Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham predicts players will be on edge and out to impress new Australian coach Eddie Jones.
And while Larkham had advocated for Dave Rennie’s retention, he felt the decision to axe Rennie in favour of his former Australian mentor, during a World Cup year, was the correct call.
“I had full trust they’d [Rennie and his assistants] get things together, but bringing someone like Eddie in is always going to be good for the program,” Larkham told reporters on Monday, a week after Jones’ shock return was confirmed.
“From the players’ perspective, there was probably a comfort level there with Dave.
“Everything’s been shaken up and everyone will be on edge a bit, everyone knows Eddie’s going to be watching those games.
“It adds a bit of spice into the mix.”
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Larkham pulled the strings as a playmaker when Jones was in charge of the powerhouse Wallabies side that reached the World Cup final in Sydney 20 years ago.
He has since held coaching roles at the Brumbies, as an assistant and head coach, before a stint on the Wallabies coaching staff was followed by three years in charge of Ireland’s Munster.
Larkham is now back in Canberra replacing Dan McKellar, who had left the role to work under Rennie and will now have his position reviewed.
“I’m a big fan of Eddie,” Larkham said.
“I played under him and have been in contact ever since.
“I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and going through the program [to] get some of that knowledge out of his head.”
Sacked by England in December, Jones will begin with the Wallabies next week and has limited opportunities to settle on his best squad, with just five Tests scheduled before the World Cup begins in September.
Larkham was speaking at the announcement of forward Allan Alaalatoa’s four-year contract extension.
He’s the first Wallabies player to sign until 2027 and, like Jones, will be on Rugby Australia’s books for a British and Irish Lions tour of Australia and home World Cup.
Ala’alatoa captained the Wallabies for the first time last year and could be an option after Jones said he would select a leader who suits his coaching, and pick his side based on Super Rugby Pacific form.
“My first emotion was that I was gutted for Rens, understanding that he couldn’t finish what he started,” Alaalatoa said.
“That was the general feel here with the Wallabies in Canberra … the boys had so much respect for him.
“(But) it’s going to be a huge lift to Super Rugby among the Aussie teams, understanding that he’s (Jones) going to pick on form.
“It’s exciting for the public and us; the jersey is up for grabs.”