BiographyDan McKellar took over as Head Coach at the Plus500 Brumbies at the beginning of the 2018 Super Rugby season, being promoted from an Assistant Coaches role to take over the top job following the departure of incumbent coach Stephen Larkham to a post with the Wallabies. McKellar brought with him a wealth of coaching experience and set about trying to implement a new style of open, running rugby within the Brumbies ranks.
“You learn a bunch of things on the run,” McKellar admitted of his promotion to the top job. “You learn the importance of managing a big group of players and staff, making sure they understand where they fit in the structure of the squad and managing expectations.
“I’ve been involved at the Brumbies now for five years as an assistant under Steve [Larkham] and we had some success in that time, making finals and performing well with consistency. I just thought with the way the game was going, you’re not going to scrum and maul your way to a premiership anymore so thought that we needed to become more dangerous and to have more tools than just set-piece.”
It was a challenge McKellar was prepared to take head on as the club looked to initiate a new style of play, one that would enable a talented group of players to break free of the shackles and express themselves on the rugby field. For the last six weeks of the campaign, that was vindicated as the Brumbies played some scintillating and thrilling running rugby.
That style of play came to fruition in those final weeks when, after a successful tour to South Africa, the Brumbies embarked on a winning streak of four wins from their last five matches, seeing off the Bulls in Pretoria, the Sunwolves and Hurricanes in Canberra and denting the Waratahs Super Rugby title aspirations with a consummate display Sydney. They finished the year with 56 tries to their name, thirteen more than in 2017 and with one more win in the ledger.
Now is the time for the Brumbies to kick on again and McKellar is excited about the challenge that lies ahead as the team prepares for another shot at claiming what would be a third Super Rugby crown.
“I’m just really excited about this year,” McKellar said, “We’ve have had a good preseason and worked hard to get it right. Then it’s about hitting the ground running in February, we’ve got to make sure that when the Rebels come we’re ready to start the new season, to build on his momentum we’ve created in the last six weeks of the 2018 season.”