The ACT Brumbies are preparing for their biggest month in a decade, but captain Ben Mowen says the club should use a drought-breaking finals berth to start a six-year succession plan to ensure ”the program is always moving forward”.
Brumbies coach Jake White missed out on the Wallabies job earlier this week and he will remain in Canberra for the last two years of his Super Rugby contract.
White’s No.1 priority is Super Rugby success with the Brumbies, but he makes no secret of his desire to return to international coaching at the end of the 2015 season.
It allows the Brumbies to plan years in advance and avoid a last-minute scramble for a replacement.
The majority of the Brumbies’ players have re-signed for the next two seasons while chief executive Andrew Fagan is negotiating an extension in his role and a deal could be finalised in coming weeks.
But in a blow, athletic performance director Dean Benton – the man credited with turning the Brumbies into one of the fittest teams in Super Rugby – will leave Canberra at the end of the season.
ACT and Wallabies great Owen Finegan says assistants Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher could be ready-made replacements for White if the Brumbies promote from within.
But the club could also opt to scour the globe for a new leader if the right candidates are available.
Either way, Mowen said White’s intentions gave the club clarity and the opportunity to set plans in place for long-term success.
”One of the advantages of having a coach who is that clear what his ambitions are is that there are already going to be strategies in place for succession planning in terms of players and coaching,” Mowen said.
”It’s not a two-year plan [until 2015], it’s going to be a six-year plan. That’s a fortunate position to be in when you consider the Brumbies recent history of three coaches [in the past three seasons].
”Jake wants to get the Brumbies job done and have success here and then go international.”
The Brumbies’ immediate focus is on beating the Western Force on Saturday night to give them momentum going into the finals.
They will be playing finals for the first time since 2004 and in his two years in charge White has turned the club from cellar dweller into contenders.
White was in a two-man race to be the next Wallabies coach, but lost out to Queensland’s Ewen McKenzie.
He has also been linked to the England and Irish coaching jobs in the past but with the World Cup just two years away the top international positions are unlikely to change before the tournament in England.
Brumbies chairman Sean Hammond said the club would use the off-season to set a 10-year strategic plan for success on and off the field.
But Hammond said the Brumbies were unlikely to start planning for White’s successor until at least the end of next year.
”You definitely start to think about succession and the rugby program is in pretty good shape,” Hammond said.
”We haven’t started anything official … there’s a lot of time for the planning to take place and it’s not something we’ve got down to look at. We just don’t know what will happen. There’s a lot we have to do first with our move [from Griffith to the University of Canberra] … the priority is this season, a new home, new capital and future-proofing the organisation.”
with David Polkinghorne
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.