Home and hungry for Moore

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

He’s played 117 Tests, 166 Super Rugby games and is the current captain of his country but it is the burning itch for team success that drives Stephen Moore.

Season 2017 marks Moore’s 18th in Super Rugby but as he is quick to point out, major trophies at both domestic and international level have been few and far between.

He has not won a Super Rugby title, a Bledisloe Cup or a World Cup despite forming an integral part of Brumbies and Wallabies teams that came so close to silverware Australian rugby craves.

Having settled back in at Ballymore following eight years in Canberra with the Brumbies, the man they call “Squeak” is determined to address that trend.

“That’s something I haven’t been able to do in my career so I’m certainly motivated by that - by that team success - because at the end of it all, that’s why you play the game,” he said.Moore has been a warrior for the Wallabies for more than a decade. Photo: Getty Images“Individual stuff is a byproduct of the team success and I’ve never been really big on any individual things, it’s more that rugby is the ultimate team game, it’s why you play and it’s why I still play.”

At 34, Moore’s career has been exemplary.

With never a hint of any off field drama, he will be remembered as arguably the best hooker to ever pull on the Wallaby gold but above all, a true gentleman of the game.

He credits his steady head and dedication to the craft to both his upbringing and the elder statesman that took him under their wings when he arrived at Ballymore as a 20-year-old in 2003, fresh out of Brisbane Grammar School and University.

“I was pretty lucky when I first started there were guys like Sean Hardman, Tai McIsaac, Tom Murphy, who played for University as well - guys like that really helped me a lot,” he said. “And then for the Wallabies from an early age I was exposed to guys like Jeremy Paul, Brendan Cannon.

“Those guys taught me a lot about how to play hooker, how to prepare at Test level, it was a bit different back then and a bit more old school when I started and the game has changed a lot in those times but you never forget the time that they give you and the advice they helped me with.”It's been an up and down start to Moore's return to Ballymore. Photo: Getty ImagesAs the second-most capped Wallaby of all time and most capped Australian Super Rugby player ever, Moore feels it now his duty to do the same.

“When you get to the stage of your career that I’m at now, you realise how important it is to help those young players to reach their potential and how much it means to the younger players when the senior players give them that time,” he said.

“I see my role here as playing a big part in that as well.”

With team success his top priority, Moore has previously said he did not expect a miraculous improvement purely based off the high profile recruitment drive at Ballymore over the summer.Moore leads the Wallabies out against England on last year's Spring Tour. Photo: Getty ImagesThis is not his first rodeo and there remains no doubt in his mind as to where the Reds must improve if they are to beat a Crusaders team which used its set piece to spark a breathtaking comeback win against the Highlanders in round two.

“I think that our lineout was disappointing on the weekend, we will put our hands up there straight away,” he said.

“There’s obviously a combination of everything - the throwing, the timing, the jumping, the calling, the lifting, it’s a combination of everything.

“We spoke about it straight after the game as something we need to address - we have some good operators running that part of the game so we need to sort that out.

“It’s been an up and down start and obviously pretty disappointing last weekend - we didn’t play how we trained all week and how we wanted to play but we are in the thick of the competition now so we just have to bounce back and we have a chance at home to do that.”