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Fisher sure about Brumbies' future

By Tim Clarke 15/05/2008 07:17:19 PM Comments (0)

Laurie Fisher enters his last game in charge of the ACT Brumbies believing the side he leaves behind has a bright future - while admitting his own is far less certain.

The hat and the hair were the same but the feelings were a little different as Fisher oversaw his final captain's run ahead of Friday's clash with the Western Force at Subiaco.

And after trying and failing to brush off his swansong as "just another game", the man who has seen two Super Rugby titles and two more losing finals since joining the organisation in 1999 - but failed to guide the Brumbies to a semi-final spot as head coach - all but admitted his time was up in the nation's capital.

"I think it is highly unlikely (I will stay on in a different role). I don't think the door is closed, but that is the least likely scenario," Fisher said.

"That said, I need employment as I have got a family to feed, but it would be nice to look for a different experience, rugby wise and experience another culture, another country. That would be my preference.

"There are jobs overseas, but I have been concentrating on trying to get through the season and win some games. I will sit down next week and see where it takes me."

With speculation Fisher could have stayed on as forwards coach under Andy Friend overtaken by reports of a job in England or Japan, Brumbies captain Stirling Mortlock admitted it would be an emotional occasion.

"Laurie has had a huge amount to do with the Brumbies over the last eight years, so there are obviously a lot of close bonds," Mortlock said.

"A few guys will be quite emotional about it, but we have got a job to do tomorrow night and we will be focused on that task."

With improving Brumbies flyhalf Christian Lealiifano going up against predecessor Matt Giteau, Steve Phibbs and Tyrone Smith will get their chance to prove Fisher's prediction of bright things ahead correct.

"We are leaving it in a fairly healthy condition, and I think culturally and leadership-wise the team is in very good condition," Fisher said.

"The team have recruited well for next year, and retained the key players we wanted to retain, so I think we are handing the team over in good condition."

That assessment is in stark contrast to the injury plagued Force, who suffered further misfortune with Drew Mitchell's collision with David Pocock at Thursday's captain's run leaving him with an ankle injury and in grave doubt for the game.

With only Australian pride and a positive win/loss record riding on the game, rivalry for Wallaby positions become a main focus - including the fight for fullback between Mark Gerrard and Cameron Shepherd.

With Chris Latham's injury leaving the spot vacant, Mitchell said he had been impressed with Shepherd's rival this year.

"Mark looks like he is relishing fullback. He looks composed and when he has got lots of time he can really dominate a game," Mitchell said.

"It is inevitable whatever occurs in those game will determine where they fit, whether it be Wallabies or Australia A. I like to think if we can play together it will enhance individual aspirations."

A Force spokesman said Mitchell was on crutches late on Thursday afternoon, and was in extreme doubt for the Brumbies clash.

If the winger is ruled out, Haig Sare will start in his place, with Junior Pelesasa - who has only just returned to club action following a knee reconstruction - to come onto the bench.

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