Rugby Union


Ben Mowen confident ACT Brumbies have a succession plan

Departing ACT Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen is adamant the club will benefit from "fresh leadership" when he leaves Australia this week, insisting he moves to France with no regrets.

Mowen is the most capped skipper in Brumbies history, having led the club's Super Rugby revival over the past three seasons.

He has already left Canberra to embark on his three-year deal with French club Montpellier, Mowen's departure coinciding with the Brumbies' director of rugby, Laurie Fisher, accepting a position abroad.

But Mowen said he was confident the Brumbies could go on to win a Super Rugby championship with Stephen Larkham as coach.

"It's definitely the right time for me to go. It's disappointing not to have won the Super Rugby title but I know it's right," Mowen said.

"I honestly believe the Brumbies have the squad to win it in the next few years and I thought we could have won the title this year ... this group deserves it and hopefully I get to witness that from France.


"I don't think [the Brumbies] have to do anything drastically different; it's just about being desperate in the championship moments. They'll be better for it next year."

Mowen was initially a shock choice as skipper in 2012, then-coach Jake White appointing him in his first season at the club. But his leadership was pivotal in the Brumbies' ascent back to the finals.

Larkham will have to choose a suitable replacement, with the most likely candidates hooker Stephen Moore, flanker David Pocock, scrumhalf Nic White and playmakers Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua.

Reluctant to anoint a successor, Mowen said the club was blessed with leaders.

"It will be natural progression ... it forces them to develop leadership for guys like Nic White and Matt Toomua," Mowen said.

"They're going to be big game players and match-winners every week, they'll drive the standard and then there's David Pocock and Stephen Moore.

"The worst thing that can happen is when a leader stays too long, it almost becomes a stalemate underneath. You need fresh leadership eyes, new voices on it and that's why it's good for me to get out now.

"The Brumbies' evolution won't be defined by the performance of one person."

Mowen was an ironman in his three seasons with the Brumbies, missing just two games and becoming the most capped captain in the club's history. It's a massive achievement given the Brumbies' previous captains include Brett Robinson, George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock and Matt Giteau.

"He was a fantastic leader, one of the great captains," Fisher said. "He was good with his message, really well prepared and he knew what he wanted to say. He wasn't always a great player, but he always played well. He never played poorly."

Mowen's decision to quit Australian rugby was a shock, given he'd finally cracked the Wallabies squad and was appointed captain.

It sparked fears of a mass exodus of Australian players to rich French clubs with the ability to offer contracts worth double that of Super Rugby teams.

But Mowen backed the Wallabies to hold on to their stars. He said the NSW Waratahs' grand final appearance and Brumbies resurgence was an indicator of Australian Test success.

"There's a really strong period coming up for Australian rugby ... all the ingredients are there for a successful Wallabies side; it's an exciting period," Mowen said.

"I think there's an exodus happening now, but it's more for the mid-range players who haven't made the Wallabies yet. But the pull of the Wallabies jersey will always be strong ... that will keep guys here."