Stephen Larkham excited to reunite with Noah Lolesio

Planet Rugby

Incoming Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is looking forward to reuniting with fly-half Noah Lolesio, praising his development since their first meeting.

Larkham will re-join the Brumbies as head coach from 2023, with the club confirming his return last week.

Whilst their paths rarely crossed at Super Rugby level, the pair got the chance to work together ahead of the 2019 World Rugby U20s Championships.

Big influence

Larkham’s influence was crucial as the side reached the final, mentoring a playmaker group that also included Will Harrison, Ben Donaldson and Issac Lucas.

Now heading for his third season at Super Rugby level, Lolesio has arguably been the pick of the bunch so far despite largely featuring as a centre for the U20s, with Larkham eager to continue his development.

“Before I left in 2019, I was working with the Junior Wallabies and Noah was our 12 there so got to work with him then and he’s a pleasure to work with,” he told reporters on Lolesio.

“His skill set is amazing, him and his family so passionate about the game, it’s great to have someone like that in the Brumbies family.

“I’m looking forward to working with him. I enjoyed my time with Noah in the U20’s and I think he’ll learn a lot out of this (year-end) tour and his experience when he played for the Wallabies. He’s got this off-season to think about things and come back a better player.”

As Wallaby 934, Lolesio was instantly thrown into one of the toughest jobs in World Rugby – starting against the All Blacks last October.

He would then start the first six Tests of the season, three against France and New Zealand, before the return of Quade Cooper saw him out of the side.

The 21-year-old was then left out of the Wallabies’ end-of-year tour squad to prioritise his pre-season before the departure of Cooper and an injury to Reece Hodge saw him rushed in as cover, coming off the bench against England.

Whilst Larkham admits the start to Lolesio’s international career has been ‘difficult’, he was confident the fly-half would take plenty out of the whirlwind 14 month period.

“I think it’s been really difficult the way things have panned out for him, starting his career against New Zealand, arguably the best team in the world, and he really shone in some of those games,” he said.

“I understand he ended up on this tour over here (in Europe) and didn’t get a really good opportunity to play. I think it was disappointing to not be included in that initial squad but I think being left out for the right reasons so he can have a good pre-season.”