Stephen Larkham is set to have eyes on both sides of the globe as the incoming ACT Brumbies mentor pieces together a Super Rugby squad while chasing a trophy in Ireland.
Larkham will return to the Brumbies as head coach for the 2023 and 2024 Super Rugby Pacific seasons after earning the unanimous vote of a panel tasked with appointing Dan McKellar's long-term replacement.
McKellar will lead the Brumbies into the 2022 season before linking up with the Wallabies full-time, while Larkham is in the midst of Irish province Munster's United Rugby Championship season.
But he will soon grow accustomed to a balancing act as the Brumbies look to lock in their off-contract stars ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Capped Wallabies Noah Lolesio, Tom Banks, Darcy Swain, Nic White, Scott Sio, Pete Samu, Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper, Irae Simone and Lachlan Lonergan are among those off-contract post-2022.
Larkham's appointment will allow the Brumbies to kickstart contract talks well in advance in a major boost for the club and its fans.
"Stephen will play a role in what our recruitment and retention looks like for 2023 and beyond," Brumbies chief executive Phil Thomson said.
"It's good to have the head coach position settled for those years, and well in advance of them. He can look on from overseas and we'll be engaging with him at the appropriate times to make sure we've got the right squad set up for 2023.
"He's obviously still got a job to do with Munster and he'll be very focused on that. Dan is our head coach for next year with Laurie [Fisher] and Rod [Seib] so they'll be focused on our 2022 on-field performance.
"As we do every year, we'll be looking and planning towards the future. That will be a combined effort from current staff and Stephen from afar.
"We've definitely got players off that we'll be working through. That process is never-ending."
Larkham's return to Canberra brings him back to the club he played for and then coached from 2014-17, and he is confident about the scenario awaiting him at Brumbies headquarters.
"I think they're in a really good place at the moment," Larkham said.
"I've certainly enjoyed watching them in Super Rugby. Anyone who has followed the team over the past couple of years would know it's very exciting to go out there and watch them play live, it's a really good group of players that are combining really well and creating a really good spectacle.
"Obviously I've been in contact with Dan over the past couple of years as well and he's very clear with where the team is at on a number of levels. I think the playing group is in a really good position, there's the potential to take it further."
Larkham's appointment was ratified by the Brumbies board following a presentation via video link on Wednesday night which laid out his ambitions for the club.
"He had clear areas of the game we needed to be good at and execute well. Hopefully that combined with the right talent will ensure we have ongoing success on the field," Thomson said.
"Through the recruitment process he was the strongest candidate and he presented a very clear vision for where he wanted to take the Brumbies, how he wanted to evolve the Brumbies both on and off the field. It was an appointment the panel was unanimous in.
"Now we've got it completed, everyone can focus on the 2022 Super Rugby season and Stephen will be focusing on his role with Munster."
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