Crop of promising hookers pushing Moore to 2019

International
by Sam Phillips

All signs point to Stephen Moore's longevity lasting to the 2019 World Cup but if he isn't there, it will be due to Australia's promising crop of young hookers taking the next step.

Moore will become the 10th most capped international of all time when he leads the Wallabies onto Suncorp Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

He is contracted until the end of 2019 but Wallabies scrum doctor Mario Ledesma wouldn't be drawn as to whether he expects him to be on the plane to Japan when the time comes.

"How should I know?" he said.

"It's really hard to say - I can tell you yes or no and I could be right or wrong.Mario Ledesma has worked wonders with the Australian scrum. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"It's going to get harder and harder and you never know when you're going to hit the wall - you might be travelling really well and all of a sudden you have no more legs and everything is going too quickly for you.

"I hope he does, he's a really good leader for us so I hope he does but I don't know."

While the question as to whether Moore gets there or not remains up in the air, one thing is for sure.

The 34-year-old's dedication to the craft will give him every possible chance.

"It's pretty impressive," Ledesma said.

"When you think about how hard it is not only playing but training everyday - we train pretty hard and he's never looking for shortcuts, never looking for excuses, he trains as hard as anyone.


"Just from the physical side of things, it's pretty impressive to be able to play more than 10 years at this level - particularly in the tight five.

"It's getting harder and harder and he just keeps performing - I really admire the player and the person too."

The uncertainty lies with the crop of young hookers yet to realise their full potential.

Tolu Latu is nipping away at Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau's heels in the Wallabies squad already, Andrew Ready and Alex Mafi look to be stiff competition for Moore at the Reds and then there is Jordan Uelese - the Australian U20s star that Michael Cheika rates very highly.

"If somebody else comes along and pushes him out, that's only good for the Wallabies," Ledesma said.Tolu Latu is one of several Australian hookers pushing for regular involvement at national level. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"I'm waiting for the guys that will come and push him off - not that I'm wishing for that to happen - but we need that death and he needs to be challenged to get there in 2019.

"We need guys who will challenge him.

"He's pretty good with his individual preparation.

"He's good with his food, he doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he sleeps alright, he's always asking S and C coaches for every detail he can work on and be better on the weekend.

"He has a three year contract so if he's good enough he will be there.

"The last couple of years I've been working with the U20s and there is a kid there - Jordan Uelese - he's pretty solid too.

"I think that they're coming through - Tolu is pretty young and then we have Mafi at the Reds and Ready, Anaru Rangi - there are a couple of young hookers coming through so if they get better, we are only going to get better."

The Wallabies take on Italy on Saturday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off at 3pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on RADIO at RUGBY.com.au.

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