Brumbies in bid to keep players
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Brumbies in bid to keep players

They started last year with only three Australian representatives, but the ACT Brumbies face the challenge of retaining at least five Wallabies players when new coach Stephen Larkham initiates contract talks in coming weeks.

Playmakers Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano, as well as Test rookies Scott Fardy, Scott Sio and Jesse Mogg, headline a list of Brumbies players on the market at the end of the 2014 Super Rugby season. All five made their Wallabies debut this year and will be hot property for cashed-up rival Super Rugby clubs.

Stephen Larkham: "Every player is a priority... we like to look after them as well as we can.''

Stephen Larkham: "Every player is a priority... we like to look after them as well as we can.''Credit:Melissa Adams

Toomua, Lealiifano and Fardy are in Europe with the Wallabies for the end-of-year spring tour.

Mogg, Sio and Fardy were all on $40,000 extended playing squad contracts when they joined the Brumbies last year, but have flourished at the Brumbies to become national representatives.

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Scott Fardy is on the Super Rugby market at the end of 2014.

Scott Fardy is on the Super Rugby market at the end of 2014.Credit:Getty Images

While the Brumbies had just three Wallabies players on their roster at the start of last year - Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander and Pat McCabe - they now boast 13 players with Test experience.

Larkham, who has taken charge of player retention and recruitment in the revamped Brumbies coaching structure, admitted it was a new landscape.

Clyde Rathbone, Henry Speight, Fotu Auelua and Andrew Smith are among other Brumbies up for new deals.

''Those sorts of discussions will start in the coming weeks but the guys who are away with the Wallabies won't be back [at Brumbies training] until next year,'' Larkham said. ''We haven't started formal talks, but there's an understanding that they're coming off contract.

The Brumbies' Matt Toomua is among a number of players who will hold contract talks in the coming weeks.

The Brumbies' Matt Toomua is among a number of players who will hold contract talks in the coming weeks.Credit:Getty Images

''Every player is a priority. We will identify all of that sort of stuff in the coming weeks and start planning. We've just been getting a handle on the program at the moment … our experienced guys are off. The guys understand the program we have here and we like to look after them as well as we can.''

New director of rugby, Laurie Fisher, will take charge of coaching appointments and is close to appointing a new assistant.

The role of ex-NRL mentor Brian Smith has been made redundant. Smith, a former Roosters, St George, Parramatta and Newcastle rugby league coach, was recruited by then-Brumbies coach Jake White last season to be the tackle expert. However, the new assistant coach will take control of the Brumbies' defence. It's understood former Tuggeranong Vikings coach Dan McKellar is a leading contender to fill the job.

White's coaching staff comprised Larkham and Fisher as assistant coaches, while also calling on Wallabies great George Gregan and former Australian coach Eddie Jones as consultants. Gregan will return as a halves consultant coach this season and will be in Canberra this week. It's not yet determined how often he will work with the Brumbies.

The Brumbies could also have one spot left on their roster for the 2014 season. Tongan No. 8 Ita Vaea is recovering from a life-threatening heart condition and his contract doesn't expire until the end of next year.

It's understood the Brumbies and Vaea are working on a release that would allow the team to recruit one more player in their 30-man full-time roster.