Rugby Australia has announced the sacking of Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham with immediate following a review conducted by the board.
The 44-year-old joined as attack coach of the side in 2015 after working with Super Rugby side Brumbies. However, the Wallabies endured a tough 2018 that saw them win just four out of the 13 Tests.
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has been proactive to help Australia address their losing streak and even appointed Scott Johnson as a new director and a season review conducted by the board concluded that the differences between Cheika and Larkham on 'attacking strategies' did affect the team's performances.
“During the post-season review when they came back and obviously looked at the Wallabies performance, everyone identified that the Wallabies didn’t play well enough this year or consistently enough and therefore deliver results,” Castle told Rugby Australia’s official website.
“So when they sat down and had those conversations there was a philosophical difference between the attacking styles and ultimately they agreed that for Bernie (Larkham) to move on was the right thing to do.
“Michael consulted with Scott and explained to him what he was going to do and his rationale so he was involved in the process.”
Larkham expressed disappointment on the decision by Rugby Australia especially with the World Cup around the corner.
“Ultimately Michael is responsible for the performance of the team. We have differences in attacking strategy and overall game philosophy,” Larkham said in a statement.
We couldn’t agree on these key points and it is in the best interest of the team that they receive clear and consistent messages from their coaches.
“I am obviously disappointed with this outcome as I had chosen to pursue the experience of taking the Wallabies through to the World Cup, however I am pleased to be able to continue coaching and contributing to Australian Rugby in this new role.”
Castle affirmed that the board have already identified few of the candidates to replace Larkham but a final decision will be made when Johnson takes over next month.
“There’s no rush. We have identified some people but there’s certainly no rush on that appointment and we’d like Scott to be involved in that process,” she said.
“Other assistant coaches are still in place an that’s the coaching team with the addition of a new attack coach that Cheik believes will be the team to take them through to the World Cup.”