"He runs all of our plays, he knows our plays - we would be crazy not to ask him, and it is a real option I could have Stephen Larkham running around for three games" ... ACT Brumbies coach Jake White. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
JAKE WHITE believes Stephen Larkham can make a comeback to be the ACT Brumbies five-eighth saviour, and the coach says he ''would be crazy'' if he didn't try to lure the Wallabies great out of retirement.
While some have laughed at a potential Larkham return, White told the Herald last night it was a ''real option'' to help fill the gap in the Brumbies' playmaker ranks.
Christian Lealiifano suffered a season-ending broken ankle last weekend, and Matt Toomua has already had a knee reconstruction.
"If he [Stephen Larkham] says to me he would play, then of course we will go with that" ... ACT Brumbies coach Jake White. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
It leaves the Brumbies without two of their most experienced players and first- and second- choice five-eighths.
White is keen to recruit a senior player for the remainder of the season to help his young back line.
Larkham is one option, but the Brumbies are also searching for Australian players abroad, and they could include Matt Giteau, Peter Hewat, Craig Wing or Craig Gower.
All have been playing in Europe or Asia, and would be handy recruits. But White was adamant Larkham, who turns 38 this month, could be the perfect man to lead his raw squad into the finals.
The Brumbies are at the top of the Australian conference and on the verge of ending a seven-year finals drought after Larkham guided the club to a title in 2004.
''He runs all of our plays, he knows our plays - we would be crazy not to ask him, and it is a real option I could have Stephen Larkham running around for three games,'' White said. ''I would never force him to play, but when two fly-halves go down you have to think outside the box.
''If we think he can add value to us then we will pursue it … he's 37 but there aren't many guys out there and the ones who are, they aren't much younger.
''If he says to me he would play, then of course we will go with that.''
Larkham hasn't played Super Rugby since he left Australia in 2007, and he finished his playing career in France at the start of last year. The veteran of more than 100 Tests and Super Rugby matches has been the Brumbies' back-line coach for the past two seasons.
The Brumbies have a bye this weekend, and White will wait until early next week before deciding if he will add an experienced player to his squad.
Robbie Coleman and Zack Holmes are the candidates to take over from Lealiifano. However, Holmes has had limited game time from the Brumbies bench in his debut season, and Coleman has played only 15 games in his career.
With rookie fullback Jesse Mogg, NRL convert Joseph Tomane, first-year halfback Nic White and second-year winger Henry Speight, White knows he needs a senior player. But he could recruit an outside back despite injuries to his two No.10s.
Giteau has been in France since leaving the Brumbies at the end of last season, while Hewat and Wing have been playing in Japan.
Former Wallabies and Brumbies coach Eddie Jones said the Brumbies would need to be ''creative'' with their recruitment.
''I think they have to look outside to bolster the ranks,'' Jones said. ''When you lose two standout guys … they've got guys who can probably do the job. But I think they probably need someone to come in and help them in the short term.
''They're going to have to be creative … I think they're going to be very creative. 'Bernie' [Larkham] could definitely be a possibility. I wouldn't discount that but maybe they have to keep looking outside as well.''