Earlier this week, Gloucester head coach and former ACT Brumbies stalwart Laurie Fisher announced he was stepping down from the West County club.
After the Cherry and Whites conceded 15 points in the final seven minutes to lose in their most recent outing against Harlequins, the 58-year-old announced his resignation, citing that it was time for some fresh thinking.
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“I think they’re about to start a process of shortlisting it and only they at this stage would know who that shortlist is, but I’m now looking at coaching opportunities,” Fisher confessed.
“That’s my hometown and my family is still there, so…should I be given the opportunity to interview, I’d love that opportunity.”
Fisher was previously head coach of the two-time Super Rugby champions, from 2005 to 2008, during which he was unable to guide the Canberra franchise to the finals.
After periods of success as Director of Rugby and assistant coach at the club, during which he oversaw a Final appearance against the Chiefs in 2013, Fisher accepted the head-coaching role at Gloucester in 2015.
Unfortunately, Fisher has barely made a blip on the radar in England either, and despite his interest in the club, it is becoming evident that the Canberra local is best served in non-head coaching positions.
However, Fisher did mention the Brumbies shortlist, and there has been plenty of chatter about the four names included on that list – and yes, ‘Lord Laurie’ is included.
But so are current Brumbies assistant Dan McKellar, former Leicester Tigers and Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor and Australian under 20s head coach Simon Cron.
Whilst not all are household names in Australia, there is a lot of revered rugby knowledge on that list.
Dan McKellar has held coaching positions at Souths Magpies and Tuggeranong Vikings in Australian club rugby, before taking up the forward coach role with the Red Hurricanes in the Top League in Japan before settling at the Brumbies as defence and skills coach.
He has overseen the development of the defensive discipline and schemes that the Brumbies have been known for over the past three seasons – often referred as ‘boring their opposition to death’.
He does not provide a huge departure from what the club has currently with Stephen Larkham, which has admittedly regressed in recent years.
However, sometimes it is not the message that needs the departing from, but the messenger. A different voice speaking the same message is sometimes all a talented club like the Brumbies requires.
Matt O’Connor, perhaps the most well known of the names on the list, was most recently co-head coach at the Queensland Reds, before Nick Stiles won the job for this season.
He has previously overseen success at both his previous head coaching appointments, winning the union with both English and Irish heavyweights Leicester and Leinster.
Well travelled and well versed in many different rugby tongues from around the world, this is my pick of the bunch. He also has the experience with big clubs to handle the most successful Australian outfit of all time.
The Brumbies should snap up O’Connor while they can – word is his former club Leicester may look back to him after recently dismissing Richard Cockerill.
The last name on the list, Simon Cron, may very well be the least known on the list, but has in recent years built himself a resume well worthy of a Super Rugby team.
The nephew of New Zealand’s scrum coach Mike Cron, 2016 saw SC lead the Norths Shoremen to their first Shute Shield triumph in 41 years, as well as guiding the Sydney Rays from the pits of NRC despair to the semi-finals.
He has recently staved off attention from his native New Zealand to stay based in Australia, and by the sounds of things, it will be for a long time.
“It was flattering and it was nice, because they’re good people. But it didn’t really hold allure for me at all. My wife Amy and I are settled now, our kids are getting towards school age, and to be honest, I feel like there’s a lot we can do [in Australia],” he said.
However, having recently accepted the head coaching position for the Australian u 20 team, it is unknown whether he would be happy to give it up yet for a gig in the best rugby competition in the world.
At that, it may be best served that Cron complete an apprenticeship as an assistant somewhere before going on to the top job.
Either way, there’s plenty for the ACT Brumbies to consider ahead of their impending confirmation of their inclusion in Super Rugby for 2018 and beyond.
Which direction they go in though, remains a mystery.