Rugby Union

Brumbies continue international halfback search after Will Genia signs three-year deal in French rugby

ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham isn't sure there is the depth within the halfback ranks in Australia to replace Nic White next season.

The quality of halfbacks in Australian rugby took another blow with Queensland Reds playmaker Will Genia agreeing to a deal with French club Stade Francais after this year's World Cup.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Genia's decision comes on the back of White's move to Montpellier to reunite with former Brumbies coach Jake White and skipper Ben Mowen.

Larkham said the Brumbies didn't seriously consider Genia and wasn't surprised with his decision to move to France.

Nic White will be hard to replace, says Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.
Nic White will be hard to replace, says Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

"There are a number of candidates world-wide who we've been in discussions with and realistically Will wasn't on the radar," Larkham said.

"We had pretty strong mail he was going overseas, so we didn't pursue that.

"But there are still a number of other options we're pursuing at the moment."

South African Fourie du Preez and New Zealand's Andy Ellis are among the candidates to replace White next season.

The Brumbies have White's understudy Michael Dowsett under contract for 2016, but he is likely to remain as a back-up option.

"I'd love to look in Australia, I'm just not sure whether the young halfbacks coming through are up to the Super Rugby level at this stage," Larkham said.

"We're certainly not going to limit ourselves.

"We've got four foreign player spots available, we haven't used any of them this year.

"We will be searching far and wide for the best replacement.

"(Dowsett's) progression is coming along well, it's just whether he needs an older head around him to give him some expertise."

The Brumbies have a number of players off-contract next season, including Wallabies stars Tevita Kuridrani, Scott Fardy and Ben Alexander.

"There's those three players, but the majority of our players are negotiating contracts for next year," Larkham said.

"Some of those negotiations are in the hands of the ARU and some of those we're chasing up with their agents at the moment.

"It's a 365 day a year job, contracting players, so we've been working on a number of contracts for the last month and we'll continue to work on a number of contracts for the next 11 months."

The immediate concern for the Brumbies is preparing for their Super Rugby season opener against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 13.

The starting hooker position remains up for grabs after Mitch Wade suffered a season-ending knee injury in last weekend's 24-19 pre-season loss to the Otago Highlanders in Wagga Wagga.

Brumbies captain Stephen Moore is likely to come off the bench in his return from a torn ACL, while Siliva Siliva and Josh Mann-Rea are also on limited training programs.

The other option is throwing in the uncapped Les Makin, who came on for Wade.

"(Makin) is not a traditional hooker, hasn't played a lot of hooker before, but did a very good job," Larkham said.

"A few line out throws were a bit off and our scrum suffered a little bit in the second half, but for his first game at hooker at that level, he did a fantastic job.

"He's someone we'd certainly consider."