Moore omission a 'logical choice' for Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Jordan Uelese's Wallabies retention was a 'logical decision' for coach Michael Cheika, but it doesn't spell the end of Stephen Moore's Test career.

Moore returned to camp this week after the birth of his third child, Lawrence, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted to give one-Test rookie Uelese a second crack at Test rugby.

Uelese came off the bench in Perth, playing 21 minutes in the 23-23 draw with the Springboks, in a performance that showed his promise.

Cheika said it wasn't an easy decision, but in the end it simply made sense to give Uelese another go, with Moore already announcing his international retirement, to come at the end of the season.

"I think it's pretty clear we've got a plan on where we're headed around the construction of the team and I think it's a logical decision to be honest," Cheika said.

"Stephen will get himself right, get a bit of hard training under his belt, get himself right for the tour.

"We know Stephen has put a finish line on his international career so we need to be ready for that, as well as meeting the challenges that you have on a day-to-day basis here. He knows that but at the same time, I think that'll keep him pretty motivated for the rest of the time he's with us."

Uelese is the latest in a trio of hookers who have looked to put the heat on Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau in recent seasons, with James Hanson and Tolu Latu both in the mix last year but unable to push for a long-term spot.

 Jordan Uelese was thrown into the fray early. Photo: WalmsleySpeaking to earlier in the week, Moore heaped praise on Uelese, and said he hoped his emergence was a sign of the next generation coming through.

“I thought he was terrific for his first Test and it takes you back to when you played your first Test and how much nerves and excitement there are,” he said on Tuesday.

“He certainly showed that he was capable at that level and he’s only going to get better after that, so that’s a really good sign for the team.

“I think if you look, with myself retiring and Taf’s not that much younger than me as well. 

“It’s really important that young hookers start to step forward and claim those roles because there’s an opportunity there for someone like Jordan to have a very long career for Australia. 

“It’s exciting for me to see that because this time next year I’m going to be a supporter.”

Uelese is not the only relatively new player lining up in Canberra, with Cheika opting to give more untried talent a chance in this Test, including potential debutant and Rebels flyer Marika Koroibete.

Koroibete is set for his Test debut, with Cheika rewarding the Rebels flyer for his steady improvement since joining the Wallabies fold on the Spring Tour last year.

Cheika hinted the Rebels’ speedster was nearing a debut, speaking in Perth last week, after a scintillating performance for the Melbourne Rising in the opening round of the NRC.

The 25-year-old replaces fellow NRL convert Curtis Rona in the 23 for the clash with the Pumas.

"It feels like he's been in the game a little longer than he actually has because we took him on the tour in a development capacity last year, so he's been in and around the squad," Cheika said.

"He's only had this season with Melbourne. I think probably the biggest thing for us, was to make sure he was ready for the positional play that's involved."

Rob Simmons is back in the Wallabies' starting team. Photo: WalmsleyCheika has also issued a challenge to omitted lock Rory Arnold to lift his workrate after an inconsistent effort against South Africa, with Izack Rodda coming onto the bench for his second game, and Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman the starting duo.

"We've had good positions in both games, both the last two games, we've had good leads and we haven't been able to be consistent in our play right through the game," he said.

"I want to make sure that every player knows that consistency's important.

"Rory played at, I thought, an excellent standard in the Dunedin game. He needs to maintain that standard all the time."

Australia's lock combinations have been constantly changing over the past year, but Cheika said it was up to the players to demand regular selection with their performances.

"I think we've got some young players coming through, Simmons is the most-established of all of those (locks in the squad), and this week we've had Lukhan Tui in the squad as well," he said.

"We see where our future is and right now, in 2017, we're looking for players to fight for those spots for the future."

Cheika said he expected the Pumas to target the breakdown, after Australia's inconsistent effort in tight in Perth.

"You'd have to think with the team they've picked, they're going to go hard at the ball on the ground," he said.

"They've picked the two opensides, moved (Benjamin) Macombe out and i think they'll go hard at the ruck.

"I think they'll try and take us there and I think they'll do what they've done before, they'll move the ball around, try and take us in the middle first, through the ruck and in those tight areas with (scrumhalf Martin) Landajo...he'll probe and try and get us sucked in there and then they'll try and shift it to their pace out wide.

"It's always a game, for some reason ,that has a lot of running and a lot of movement in it, because both teams have the idea that they want to run the ball, so I figure they're the challenges we're going to meet."

The Wallabies take on Argentina in Canberra on Saturday September 16, kicking off at 8pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten, Win and via RADIO.


IN: Marika Koroibete, Izack Rodda

OUT: Curtis Rona, Rory Arnold

1. Scott Sio (35 Tests)

2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (74 Tests)

3. Sekope Kepu (83 Tests)

4. Rob Simmons (74 Tests)

5. Adam Coleman (14 Tests)

6. Ned Hanigan (6 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (71 Tests)

8. Sean McMahon (18 Tests)

9. Will Genia (vc) (81 Tests)

10. Bernard Foley (vc) (48 Tests)

11. Reece Hodge (16 Tests)

12. Kurtley Beale (63 Tests)

13. Tevita Kuridrani (50 Tests)

14. Henry Speight (15 Tests)

15. Israel Folau (58 Tests)


16. Jordan Uelese (1 Test)

17. Tom Robertson (12 Tests)

18. Allan Alaalatoa (15 Tests)

19. Izack Rodda (1 Test)

20. Jack Dempsey (2 Tests)

21. Nick Phipps (54 Tests)

22. Samu Kerevi (10 Tests)

23. Marika Koroibete*

*denotes uncapped