Milestone Moore thinking of the team

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Stephen Moore will play game 163 against the Force on Saturday night and in the process surpass the records of his coach and an old mate, to become Australia’s and the Brumbies’ most-capped Super Rugby player.

Moore will top the tally of former Queensland Reds and Force second rower Nathan Sharpe against the Force, leapfrogging a player who has been a major figure in his career.

Sharpe was at the Reds when Moore made his Ballymore debut, but the pair haven’t been in touch this week, though he will be thinking of him in the ACT’s final round match.

“I think he's on holidays overseas somewhere,” he said.

“It's nice to be able to be in that kind of company.

“Sharpey was there when I played my first game back in 2003 and he's been a great help to me through my career and remains a very good friend so it's nice to be mentioned alongside someone like that.”

Stephen Moore and Nathan Sharpe are old friends. Photo: Getty ImagesThe hooker is on track to be Super Rugby’s most-capped player after signing with the Reds for three more years, with Kevin Mealamu’s 175 matches in his reach.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham, one of whom Moore will overtake this weekend, said Moore’s longevity was to be admired.

“I've no doubt that he's going to be the highest-capped Super Rugby player by the time he retires,” he said.

“He started when he was young and he's been talented throughout his whole career.

“He hasn't been someone that's gotten better although this year has probably been his best year in terms of performances on the paddock.

“Every year, he consistently performs at the same level. So, he's surpassing Sharpey this weekend and myself on the Brumbies ladder.”

Larkham said Moore’s record had come not from fortune but with each cap earned through simply being the best.

“He certainly deserves it - he's been a quality player for a long time,” he said.

“He's not one of those guys who has the record because there's no one else who can fill his spot, he genuinely has been the best in that position for a long time.”

While it’s a record number for Moore, it could also be his final match in Brumbies colours, if his side fails to top the Australian conference.

Ita Vaea is a much-loved Brumbies player. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThat, though, is something the Brumbies co-captain is certainly not considering.

“I haven't thought about that, to be honest, and I think if you give too much time thinking about those kinds of things then it might happen,” he said.

“You need to really think about being positive tomorrow, being excited about the opportunity we've got and putting in a good performance.”

Rather than himself, Moore said his thoughts would be on players like Joe Tomane and Ita Vaea who have been robbed of their farewells through injury and premature retirement.

“During the season when he (Ita) had to retire that hits home to you that he can't ever play again,” he said.

“We've still got the opportunity to go out and do something with our footy and when it's taken away from you I suppose you realise how important that is and for Joe as well.

“I know how much this club has meant to him over his time here - he's been a big contributor to the club and it's sad for him to go out this way.

“That's certainly motivation for our players to want to go out there and make them proud about the Brumbies and what we can achieve this year.”

If the Brumbies make the finals, they will likely host a quarter-final against a New Zealand side next Friday night, at an earlier kick-off time of 6pm AEST.