Stephen Moore: Natural leader joins exclusive club

by staff

Stephen Moore is Wallabies captain and on the verge of becoming just the seventh Australian Test centurion but the 32-year-old says he has plenty to learn.

He has played 99 Tests for the Wallabies, eight of those as captain, but is constantly looking for improvement in himself and those around him.

“The older you get, the more experienced but you learn every time,” he said.

“I’m learning every game and every week.

“I suppose as you get on, you know what’s coming and you know what to expect.

“The big thing is you can try and impart that on the younger guys and make them a little bit more comfortable about what we’re going through.”

Moore has been reluctant to reflect on his 99 Tests or dwell on his achievement, rather deflecting to the team’s opportunity to progress to a semi-final.

When he does stop to reflect on some career highlights, it’s the team memories that stand out in his mind.

“I think any player would say that to get your first cap and represent your country for the first time is very special and probably my 50th,” he said.

“Not because it was my 50th but we won the game in the last play in South Africa in Bloemfontein and Kurtley Beale kicked a penalty to win us the game.

“Those kinds of things are obviously very memorable whenever you win a game away from home against a great opponent. I’ll always remember that one.”

It’s an attitude that epitomises his approach to rugby, that sees him bloodied and bruised after every match and yet he still manages in many ways to go under the radar.

Moore says he hopes to help give younger players the same support he received from former teammates like Nathan Sharpe.

“You never forget those things when someone gives you a bit of time early in your career,” he said.

“He (Sharpe) certainly helped me an enormous amount about what it was like to be a professional athlete and a professional rugby player.”

Sharpe doesn’t recall any specific gems of advice, except for a pearl of wisdom in the fashion stakes.

“There was never a lot of sitting down and advice as such,” he said.

“I did tell him to shave his head, I got in first with that.”

The value of relationships within the Wallabies fold has become the cornerstone of the Michael Cheika era, but it is also that of Stephen Moore’s captaincy.

It’s a quality that is reflected in the reverence with which former and current teammates speak of Moore.

Former Brumbies flanker and 111-Cap Wallaby George Smith said there was an element of comfort playing alongside Moore, with his propensity to stay calm under pressure.

“There was always a comfort in having him in the side and relying on him to play the best of his ability,” he said.

“He’s a person who’s shown in the past how hard he’s willing to work and continues to do that t0 this day.

“I think from the time I was introduced (to him), he had those attributes as a person and a player.

“It doesn’t start on the field how he lives his life. He leads by example.”

Moore is an admired figure among the team and Matt Toomua, who has played under him at the Brumbies and the Wallabies, said he’s an obvious leader.

“Squeak’s been our leader at the Brumbies for quite a while now, whether he’s been our captain or not, he’s definitely always harped on standards and what not and he’s really led from the front,” he said.

Moore says there’s a simple strategy that he channels in his captaincy.

“It’s just spending time with each other,” he said.

“Just getting to know each and every one of your teammates as well as you can and giving them those little tips along the way.

“Likewise I’m learning from them all the time as well.

“It’s a special environment that we’ve got and we’ve worked hard to create that and we’re certainly want to make the most of the opportunities that we’ve got.”

His first stint in the Wallabies captaincy lasted only minutes and his absence from rugby continued to burn a desire inside him, just to get back to the sport.

Now he wants to make the most of his third World Cup, with the potential to join an even more exclusive group than 100-Test players - Australian World Cup captains.

But don’t expect him to be looking further than the challenge of a quarter-final against Scotland.

“I’m more focused about what we’re in at the moment, We’re right in the middle of the World Cup now and the important part of the competition,” he said.

“Whether it’s my 30th game or 60th or 100th is really insignificant.

“The opportunity that we’ve got this weekend is all I’m focused on.”

Our #Wallabies captain Stephen Moore is set to run out for his 100th Test cap when Australia play Scottish Rugby on Sunday in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final. His Wallabies teammates have left him a few messages of support... #AUSvSCO #StrongerAsOne

Posted by Wallabies on Thursday, 15 October 2015