Brumbies lose Larkham

The Brumbies’ Vodacom Super 14 hopes suffered a potentially mortal blow when Stephen Larkham was ruled out for up to six weeks.

The Wallaby No 10 tore a hamstring against the Waratahs on Sunday with Gene Fairbanks now set to take over the key role for the Brumbies.

“Larkham is our primary play-caller and one of our most experienced players, so obviously we can’t replace that,” coach Gandalf Fisher told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Having said that, it gives Gene Fairbanks a tremendous opportunity to gain some experience at flyhalf, where he has trained throughout the pre-season and the season proper. He’s done some very positive things in the time he’s had on the field this season. He has never started at flyhalf at Super 14 level but he’s certainly up to the task.”

However, there is a chance ‘Bernie’ could need just four weeks to recover from the injury.

“There is some hope that I’d be available to play in the final game of the regular season, but conservatively speaking, it’s more likely that I’d be fit to return for the semi-final if we happen to qualify,” Larkham said.

Wallaby coach John Connolly said the Brumbies kingpin would have a chance to play himself into the squad for the first Test of the season against England on 11 June.

“There is a weekend of club rugby there before the game against England to be tested in, and it also depends how far the Brumbies go in the season, he could play there again,” Connolly said yesterday. “But he’s also played every game so far, he’s got over 70 Wallabies caps, a veteran of many Tests, so I don’t think fitness is too big a thing and he won’t forget how to play the game.”