Lawton backs Moore's leadership in tough 2016

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Former Wallabies hooker Tom Lawton has backed Stephen Moore, despite a mixed year for the current Test skipper.

Lawton was hooker when the Wallabies last won at Eden Park, in 1986, and said Moore had struggled early after the team’s June series but had turned a corner in recent weeks.

“I think poor old Steve's battling with the hardship of leading the team and having to keep that positive front,” he said.

“I think he's come good at the back of his season. There was a patch there where the eye was off the ball a little bit but I think he's a quality player and a very good leader.”

“What rugby needs is leadership and i think he is solidly one of those things that can provide that.”

While he backed Moore’s leadership in a disappointing year, Lawton joined the chorus of voices to call for Israel Folau to switch to the midfield.

“It's a little bit like having your Ferrari ploughing the fields for you,” he said.

“I'd like to see him up the front, bending those advantage lines more often...but guys that are smarter than me pick those teams.”

The 53-year-old said the weight of expectation might have backfired in a 3-0 cleansweep in June.

“I think the Wallabies tend to do very well under a siege mentality and I think that that's a good quality to have,” he said.

“When the expectation is that we'll do well on our home soil, it's always a bit dangerous and that was proven to be the case against the Poms.”

Tom Lawton in his playing days. Photo: Getty ImagesLawton was one of the 1986 members at a 30th reunion lunch on Wednesday, celebrating that most recent Wallabies victory.

The 41-Test hooker said the streak had almost become somewhat of a shameful one.

“It's actually a little bit embarrassing,” he said.

“I’d much rather it got broken six months after we started it.

“It just means that we've got some work to do and at the top end of rugby that's goals for them.

“They're all hard men, they're all tough guys, I think they've picked the right guys and the right squad to do the job.

Stephen Moore has been under fire in recent weeks. Photo: Getty Images“I think reality means that New Zealand has to have an off day and Australia has to take advantage of that and that's what sport's all about.”

Andrew Slack was captain of that 1986 side and said there was still an air of mystery around Eden Park, where the All Blacks haven’t lost to any side since 1994 

“I think if you’d asked the 30 of us who were in New Zealand to bet our houses on us being the last to win it in 30 years, we’d all be houseless by now,” he said.

“There’s no real reason apart from you’re always playing the All Blacks, who are always good but you’d have thought we’d get the bounce of the ball at some point.

“By the law of averages, we’re due.”

The Wallabies will take on the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday night, following the Wallaroos-Black Ferns match, a double header that kicks off at 3:05pm AEDT.