The great Australian rugby brains trust of Eddie Jones and Stephen Larkham will be reunited at the unlikely venue of Exies Sports Club in Griffith on Saturday.
The Brumbies vs Waratahs Super Rugby trial game will be a low key affair to start a high stakes year for two men trying to restore the Aussie game to its former glories.
It will be Jones’ first chance to run the rule over some young talent in person since reclaiming his Wallabies coaching job from Dave Rennie in dramatic fashion.
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And Larkham will be keen to impress his former mentor in what is also his second spell at the helm of the Brumbies, following a stint with Irish club powerhouse Munster.
”Bringing someone like Eddie in is always going to be good for the program. From the players’ perspective there was probably a comfort level there with Dave,” Larkham said.
“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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Two full decades have passed since Larkham was Jones’ on field general for a Wallabies side that lost the 2003 Rugby World Cup final in heartbreaking fashion.
And there remains a possibility they could work together in a coaching capacity at this year’s World Cup in France, with Jones yet to announce his set of assistants.
Former Wallabies backs coach Scott Wisemantel – who worked with Jones in England – resigned in January.
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“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 – get some of that knowledge out of his head.”
Both the Brumbies and Waratahs will be without their Wallabies stars for the opening trial match.
With the big guns sidelined, Larkham has given new recruits Jack Debreczeni, Tamati Tua, Ben O’Donnell and Corey Toole starts to showcase their attacking talents in the run-on team.
BRUMBIES (15-1): Declan Meredith, Ben O’Donnell, Ollie Sapsford, Tamati Tua, Corey Toole, Jack Debreczeni, Ryan Lonergan, Charlie Cale, Rory Scott, Ed Kennedy, Tom Hooper, Jack Wright, Tom Ross, Connal McInerney, Fred Kaihea
WARATAHS (15-1): Max Jorgensen, Nemani Nadolo, Harry Wilson, Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Ben Donaldson, Harrison Goddard, Will Harris, Charlie Gamble, Lachie Swinton, Taleni Seu, Ned Hanigan, Archer Holz, Mahe Vailanu, Tetera Faulkner
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