Rugby Union

Stephen Larkham knocks back Cheika appointment offer

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Having accepted the Wallabies coaching role on Monday, Michael Cheika's appointment has suffered a minor setback, with Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham deciding to put club before country as he plans to focus on taking his side to a Super Rugby title.

Cheika planned to bring in Larkham as an assistant coach to accompany him, as well as Michael Foley of the Western Force, but the former Wallaby didn't want the distraction of international duties, leaving Cheika still seeking a man to fill the position and complete his support staff.

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The Waratah's boss plans to juggle club commitments and international obligations over the coming year, and was hoping his assistant coaches could do the same in an attempt to unite the Australian States in preparation for next year's World Cup.

However, Larkham has not ruled out taking the job at a later date and has backed Cheika's philosophy of uniting the states.

Larkham comments

"I definitely have ambition to coach at that level. If you're a rugby coach you've always got ambition to be at the top level," Larkham said.

"Test level is a step up. To be coaching your national team would be something very special and a great opportunity. I have a lot of respect for [Cheika] and I think he'll do a fantastic job."

"I haven't ruled anything out after the spring tour, I certainly want to help the Wallabies provided it doesn't distract or detract from my role here at the Brumbies."

"It's a great concept with Super Rugby coaches coming together for the good of Australian rugby and then breaking apart to compete against each other. We all feel the same, we're trying to do our bit for Australian rugby."

Potential assistant

Former Brumbies Director of Rugby Laurie Fisher is said to be on the cards as a potential assistant to Cheika for the autumn internationals, having recently taken up a post at Gloucester.

"It's a pretty humbling experience to be asked to be involved in something like that, but we'll see what happens," Cheika said when speaking to the Media outside the Waratahs headquarters in Moore Park.

"There are a few things to be ironed out, obviously the logistics, etc ... everything is so close. So we will see how it goes and work it out from there."

Need for communication

The struggles with the appointment continue for the ARU. Cheika has one year left on his contract with the Super Rugby Champions, meaning the ARU have had to converse with the Waratah's board in order to strike a deal for their coach's services.

"I had a long chat with Bill [Pulver, ARU CEO] about a number of things. I am not going to repeat what they were about," Jason Allen, chief executive of the Waratahs, said. "All I will say is, if that were to eventuate with Michael Cheika [asked to coach the Wallabies], that's the position of the Waratahs board."

"We would want him to coach us next season, so we are willing to work with the ARU on the solution and wouldn't stop him obviously," Allen said. "I know Roger [Davis, Waratahs chairman] said we would definitely support him in advancing his career. There is no doubt about it."

The ARU are expected to announce the appointment of Cheika, and the Wallabies squad for the autumn internationals on Wednesday, with the squad meeting in Sydney on Thursday and flying out on Friday.

Australia kick off their European tour on November 1 when they take on the Barbarians at Twickenham.

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