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Why Jake walked out on Brumbies

Thu, 26 Sep 2013 08:16
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His heart wasn't in it
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While the Brumbies have started the process to replace Jake White as head coach, details have begun to emerge about the reasons for his sudden departure.

According to the Australian media Wallaby great Stephen Larkham and forwards coach Laurie Fisher have emerged as clear cut favourites to take over as Brumbies head coach - following the shock resignation of Jake White.

Brumbies Chief Executive Andrew Fagan all but confirmed to ABC radio on Thursday that one of the two would fill the void following South African White's shock decision to leave with two years remaining on his contract.

Fagan also revealed that missing out on the Wallabies coaching job was the primary reason behind White's decision to leave the franchise.

Fagan said he was shocked and disappointed when White asked for a release from his contract.

"This came out of the blue," the Brumbies boss said.

The South African was brought to Canberra in 2011, steering the team to a Super Rugby Final just two months ago.

Fagan conceded that being overlooked for the Wallabies head coach role in July - when Ewen McKenzie beat off his challenge - had affected White.

"I understand his reasons for seeking the release," Fagan said in a statement issued on Thursday.

"He was obviously very disappointed in missing out on the Wallabies' job and he sees his best opportunity to further his international coaching career is from South Africa.

"And that's sort of at the heart of all this.

"He also has two sons who live in South Africa who he misses a great deal so when I sit back and look at it I can understand why he has made his decision.

"I had a long chat with him, as did others. He settled back down and recommitted to the franchise - including expressing that to the board just prior to his vacation [in South Africa].

"Obviously back home, he said he's had a rethink and he said he doesn't feel as though he can progress in international rugby through Australian Super Rugby and the sacrifice of being away from his family who he's very close to.

"If that carrot's not there, he felt as though that was just too much and his heart wasn't going to be in it.

"I tried to talk him out of it. My chairman spoke with him; [captain] Ben Mowen spoke with him. We tried our best to turn that around.

"But for those primary reasons, he just said he couldn't make that decision."

* Meanwhile Larkham and Fisher will take control of the team in the short term while permanent options are investigated.

"Look it's far from ideal that Jake is leaving right now, but in saying that we have two outstanding assistant coaches in Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher who have delivered the majority of the on-field coaching and they will continue to implement our high performance program. We will make a decision on a head coach in due course," Fagan said

"On behalf of our fans, the players and staff at the Brumbies, I'd like to wish Jake and his wife Lindy all the very best in the future. Jake has achieved great things for the Brumbies' and his record is one that I'm sure he will always look back on with pride."

The two assistant coaches have spent about a decade together at the Super Rugby franchise, dating back to Larkham's playing days when Fisher was both assistant and head coach.

But the apprentice could soon become the master - and both have gone on the record saying they wouldn't have a problem with that arrangement.

Fagan all but confirmed that one of the two would fill the void following South African White's shock decision to leave with two years remaining on his contract.

With 127 caps as a Brumbies player, World Cup-winning playmaker Larkham is the team's attack coach while Fisher, who was head coach between 2005-08, has handled the forwards under White.

"We've got two head coaches in waiting, effectively, and I think it would be unlikely that we would go outside the group," Fagan said.

"We're not looking for change. We're looking to continue to evolve what's in place."

Fagan will join a sub-committee of up to five people to lock-in a new coach, and they might also look at recently sacked Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Yet Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said the playing group would be more than content for one of the two assistant coaches to get the nod.

"I would think between Bernie [Larkham] and Laurie that there's more than enough experience and direction," said Mowen, who's in Cape Town for the Wallabies' Test against South Africa on Saturday.

"It would be reasonably seamless for the group."

White, who coached the Springboks to the World Cup in 2007, had confided in his captain over the past few weeks with the pair meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Mowen initially hoped to convince him to stay on, but changed his mind.

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