Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham gets gig as waterboy

larkham Photo: act\daniel.briggsInternational rugby rules ban him from being on the field, but ACT Brumbies mentor Stephen Larkham will use a loophole to become the first Super Rugby head coach to double as a waterboy.
Nanjing Night Net

Super Rugby’s governing body SANZAR has cleared Larkham to become the most high-profile waterboy since Adam Sandler played Bobby Boucher in the 1998 Hollywood hit.

International Rugby Board protocols dictate head coaches are not allowed to run the water.

But because Laurie Fisher is the Brumbies’ director of rugby, SANZAR has cleared Larkham to be on the field while Fisher is in the coach’s box.

Larkham will be the only head coach in any Australian sport to be an on-field coach.

”I haven’t seen a head coach on the field in rugby before, but if you look at soccer, the coaches are on the sideline,” Larkham said.

”It’s not dissimilar to that, but I just get the chance to get on the field.”

While Boucher was an expert in ”high-quality H2O” in the movie The Waterboy, Larkham’s concern is not so much hydration as it is emotion.

The former Australian Wallabies and Brumbies play-maker, who retired from playing Super Rugby in 2007, says he gets a better feel for the game on the field.

”You miss out on the emotion and communication if you’re up in a coach’s box,” he said.

”I think getting on and giving messages yourself is quite important. This way we can get two perspectives on the game and I can get on the field. I’m looking forward to that again.”

Larkham, 39, is also the youngest coach in Super Rugby.

Having former players as waterboys has caused angst in the NRL in the past while former Wallabies Matt Giteau and Stirling Mortlock have both had stints running water in Super Rugby.

Manly great Geoff Toovey and Nathan Brown caused uproar in rugby league because of the extended time they spent on the field directing the play.

It was thought Toovey was pushing players into holes and telling them where to run from behind play.

Larkham insists he will give minimal instructions, leaving Wallabies representative and five-eighth Matt Toomua to guide the Brumbies around the field.

”The guys are very experienced now, they have a good understanding of what needs to be played,” he said.

”I occasionally go out there and have a bit of a chat about what they’re seeing and what’s coming up next.

”But generally it’s left up to them to make all of those on-field calls … You get to feel the intensity on the field.

”You can hear the calls, you get the emotion and the atmosphere that the crowd provides. I’m not worried about it, it was quite beneficial for us last year.”

Fisher and Brumbies assistant coach Dan McKellar will sit in the coach’s box.

The Brumbies start their Super Rugby campaign against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 22.

They lost their opening trial match against the Otago Highlanders on Friday night, but will fine-tune their preparations when they play an ACT XV at Viking Park on Saturday.

SUPER RUGBY TRIAL

February 8: ACT Brumbies v ACT XV at Viking Park, Saturday, 7pm.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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