Rugby Union


Departing ACT Brumbies mentor Laurie Fisher has international coaching aspirations

Departing ACT Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher has declared he wants to be an international Test coach, even if it is against the Australian Wallabies.

Fisher is also adamant Brumbies legend Stephen Larkham is ready to step up as sole coach  next year and lead the club to a Super Rugby title, but hasn't ruled out returning to Australia to coach against the ACT.

Fisher left Canberra on Thursday to start his tenure as Gloucester's coach in England, ending his three-year return to the Brumbies and leaving a massive hole in the club's coaching ranks.

Supportive of Larkham's coaching future, 55-year-old Fisher has not set limits on his own career either. Fisher was one of the front-runners for the Wallabies job in 2007, but the ARU opted for New Zealand's Robbie Deans.

While Wallabies Ben Mowen, David Pocock and Stephen Moore regard Fisher as the best forwards expert in world rugby, Fisher won't pigeon-hole himself as a forwards specialist and declared he wants to be part of an international set-up.

"I'd love to be involved in international rugby at some point in time, that's the pinnacle and I don't believe it has passed me by," Fisher said.


"I won't be shedding tears if I never get there because I enjoy what I'm doing. If it happens, it would be fantastic.

"International coaching, you take a good opportunity that comes along. If you're just waiting for something in your own backyard [Australia], you might be waiting for something that never comes.

"No one has come knocking on my door [in Australia] for a decade now, so I don't know why they'd come now. I think Ewen McKenzie will be in the Wallabies chair for the next two World Cups and rightly so."

Fisher hasn't ruled out a return to Australian rugby, although he admits it would be tough to coach against the Brumbies.

 "I see myself having another 10 years in coaching until I'm 65 or 66. I don't know where the next option will be," he said.

"It wouldn't be my preference to coach against the Brumbies, but you've got to do what you've got to do. I wouldn't rule anything out at all."


The Brumbies' championship dreams were torpedoed in the semi-final against eventual winners the NSW Waratahs.

In the past two seasons the Brumbies have made the grand final and a semi-final, but the club hasn't won a title since Fisher was an assistant coach in 2004.

Larkham will be tasked with leading the Brumbies into the future and he will assemble a new coaching structure after Fisher's departure.

But Fisher said the Brumbies had the foundations to win a title in the coming seasons after Jake White started an overhaul three years ago.

"I think we've got the game that can be successful. We need to move forward a bit, but our base game can win a Super Rugby championship," Fisher said.

"We're in a position where I think we can cash in, but you can't be on the fringe for five years. You've got to get your pay sooner rather than later."

Larkham and Fisher combined for a co-coaching role this season, following White's decision to quit halfway through his four-year contract.

Larkham is one of the club's greatest players, winning two Super Rugby titles and a World Cup with the Wallabies.

"He will be successful, he's already successful. Look at the Wallabies in our back line, they're because of Steve," Fisher said.

"The organisation has to ensure his hands-on coaching doesn't change next year, he has to decide what he wants his hands on and what he wants people to report to him on.

"If he wants to have his hands on everything, he won't have enough hours in the day to do everything properly."


Fisher believes World Cup-winning coach White struggled with his limited hands-on role at the Brumbies with Fisher and Larkham as his assistants.

White led a Brumbies transformation from easybeats to title contenders in his two-years in charge.

White recruited Fisher and Larkham, Ben Mowen as his captain and David Pocock as his marquee recruit.

But White quit two years into a four-year contract, Fisher is leaving and Wallabies captain Mowen has already moved to France.

It's the end of White's generation, but Fisher says the South African was the right man to instigate change in Canberra.

"I think Jake struggled because he had two really good coaches and he struggled with the fact he wasn't doing enough coaching himself, he wrestled with it," Fisher said.

"He wanted to coach more ... he set the program but he wanted to coach. He turned it around here in a very short space of time.

"One of the reasons we were able to have success was because he was able to get everyone on board."


Fisher leaves Canberra with just one regret: missing an opportunity to work with David Pocock, one of the world's best flankers.

Pocock joined the Brumbies in 2013, but has played just five games in two seasons because of consecutive knee reconstructions.

"To have one of the world's best and not have a significant amount of coaching time with him, that's one of the things I regret," Fisher said.

"When you're working with the world's best, you're giving and you're learning. His injuries deprived me of those opportunities to learn off him."

Fisher has previously worked with George Smith, rated as Australia's greatest openside flanker.

The Brumbies recruited Wallabies captain Pocock with a vision to make him an even better player.

"If anyone can get back to his best, he can," Fisher said. "But two years out of the game is a long time, the game moves on. Does he want to be back to where he was? Does he need to be different?

"That's what we were pushing for, keeping his breakdown combativeness, but adding some attack."


Fisher has spent a decade in the coaching ranks at the Brumbies, taking over as head coach from 2005-08 and returning in 2012 to help White and Larkham rebuild the club.

Fisher is a former school teacher and a Canberra club rugby legend. His hairstyle has earned him the nickname "The Lord" and he has worn the same Brumbies bucket hat for 10 years.

"I'll take the hat with me, maybe for fishing only ... I'm a hoarder anyway. I won't be throwing it out," Fisher said.

"When I'm watching the Brumbies on a Saturday morning from Gloucester, I might put it on then."