Brumbies name new coach to replace Larkham
THE Brumbies' worldwide search for a new coach has ended up going to one of their own, with assistant coach Dan McKellar to replace Stephen Larkham in 2018.
McKellar emerged as the strongest candidate from a shortlist of four, including former coach Laurie Fisher.
He will take over at the conclusion of the 2017 Super Rugby season, with Larkham to join the Wallabies' set-up full-time.
"I am honoured and privileged to be taking over as head coach of this fantastic club," McKellar said in a club statement.
"It's a wonderful club to be part of and I am looking forward to helping shape the future of the Brumbies, on and off the field.
"Having worked with Stephen for several years, and been part of the Brumbies set-up since 2013, I am confident that we have some exciting times ahead of us.
"We have lots of young talent at the club and are in the process of looking to consolidate our playing resources for next season."
While the buck will ultimately stop with McKellar, it's understood that Larkham may still be heavily involved with the Brumbies going forward.
The former champion playmaker will be based in Canberra as part of an ARU strategy to support Super Rugby franchises with extra resources - which would replicate what occurs in New Zealand, where All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith has spent years working with the Chiefs.
Fisher could also be involved with the Brumbies, likely as an assistant.
McKellar joined the Brumbies as a defence coach in November 2013, after a stint coaching in the Japanese Top League with NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
Following the departure of Fisher to English Premiership outfit Gloucester, McKellar, a former loose-head prop who played a 150 games with Souths Rugby Club in Brisbane and played for the Reds in 2005 and 2006, took over as forwards coach.
The Brumbies can seal top spot in the Australian conference and a berth in the playoffs if they beat the Melbourne Rebels at home on Saturday night and the Waratahs lose their away match to the Chiefs.
Wallabies back-rower Lopeti Timani has been named to start for the Rebels.
He was a late withdrawal against the Crusaders last weekend with a head knock, but he will be one of five changes to the starting team.
Rebels coach Tony McGahan said the return of Timani would be crucial in a set-piece battle.
"The Brumbies' physicality and strong set piece has provided them the foundation for a consistent season and they deserve their place at the top of the Australian conference going into the Test break," he said.
"For us, this game presents an opportunity to knock off the conference leaders for a second time this season and show what this side is capable of without a year of off-field distractions and inconsistent selection."
with Christy Doran