Dan McKellar won’t be the next Wallabies coach, but one factor in his first season at the helm of the finals-bound Brumbies is a positive indicator for future success at international level.
ACT Brumbies back Robbie Coleman has ended his time at the club, heading west to join the Western Force.
Coleman was offered an immediate release by the ACT club to take up a two-year contract with the Force as the Perth club continues to build for the 2017 season.
The signing is the second positive bit of news for the Force in as many days, with the capture of Coleman following hot on the heels of the news that former club skipper Matt Hodgson has re-signed with the Perth-based franchise for another season.
While it’s a big coup for the Force, it’s potentially an even more significant loss for the Brumbies heading into the 2017 Super Rugby season.
Fly-half Matt Toomua has already left the club, taking up a three-year deal with the Leicester Tigers to play in England, while fellow playmaker Christian Lealiifano’s future is also in doubt with the Brumbies star having been diagnosed with leukaemia in August.
Coleman was viewed as the logical replacement at fly-half, having played the position in a number of junior squads, including the Australian schoolboy’s side, but his departure will force a re-think.
However, while the Brumbies have suffered a setback to their squad’s depth, coach Stephan Larkham had few qualms with Coleman’s decision to leave the club.
“While we are disappointed that Robbie has decided to leave, we understand that the opportunity he’s been presented is a great one for him,” Larkham said.
“Robbie has been a part of the Brumbies development program since a young age, and we are all very proud of what he has been able to achieve.
“We wish Robbie all the best on this next chapter in his career.”
The 26-year-old has been based around the nation’s capital for the entirety of his career so far. A Queanbeyan junior, Coleman’s entire 80-game Super Rugby career has been played with the Brumbies, and he was recently named vice-captain of the University of Canberra Vikings squad in the National Rugby Championship.
“This is definitely the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my career,” Coleman said.
“Being a Queanbeyan junior, it was always my dream to play for the Brumbies, and I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to run out and represent the side 80 times.
“I’ll miss Canberra and the Brumbies fans and thank them for all of their support over my years with the club.”
Coleman made his debut with the Brumbies in 2010 against the Reds and had gone on to score 17 tries in his six seasons with the club.