Moore and Uelese complete rugby spectrum

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

When Stephen Moore made his first Test start in Scotland, fellow Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese was just nine years old.

Eleven years on, Moore is preparing to play his final game of professional rugby, after announcing his full retirement on Wednesday morning (AEDT), while Uelese prepares to fill the 128-Test veteran's void.

The pair both spoke to media on Tuesday, local time, Moore for what will likely be his final sit down press conference, Uelese in his first, still with just 28 minutes of Super Rugby behind him, though two Tests on top of that.

The pair represent the start and the end of a cycle of Australian rugby - something symbolised as much by Moore's love of Bon Jovi and Uelese's preference for rapper Drake as anything else.

Moore is readying to hand the baton over to 20-year-old Uelese, who re-signed until 2020 this week, expecting to see the Rebels hooker play a critical role in the 2019 Rugby World Cup

“I think it’ll be a big role (in 2019),” he said.

“I think you'll see him playing a little bit more Test rugby next year but I think we forget he hasn't actually played that much Super Rugby.

“He's a big body, that's really important at this level in the front row.

“He can use that to his advantage if he works hard on that area of his game and that'll help his set piece to be strong and he's a very talented footballer, we've seen that already this year.

“Probably Tolu Latu's another guy who you can't discount, in that space, he's probably had his challenges this year but I think if he can sort that out, then he's got a lot of ability.”

Any success Uelese has, he will be hugely indebted to Moore, whose composure and patience has helped the youngster in the Wallabies environment.

“I don't think you'll find a better person and a better bloke than Stephen and the professionalism he shows - he's definitely the 24-hour athlete,” he said.

“He's a great leader.

“The calmness in his voice when things aren't going to plan (is important).

“I've been fortunate to be playing in the same games with him and his knowledge and his wealth of experience have been awesome.”

In almost five months among the Wallabies camp, Uelese said Moore and the rest of the team had helped him grow immensely as a person, already the well-spoken rookie addressing media with relative comfort.

“I think since day one I've developed, I've had to mature very quickly,” he said.

“Being a youngster, you've got to adapt and you can't joke around, well you can but you can't do what you used to do in under 20s and I think my maturity as a player on and off the field has grown tremendously,” he said.

“Also my game, when you're training and living with these guys for months, it's been a long season. their attributes as great players rubs off on myself and hopefully I can take that back and keep working on my little things and hopefully get the complete package next year for Super Rugby.”

Though Moore was typically trying to deflect suggestions his final game would be a motivator for his teammates, Uelese was adamant the team would want to give the most-capped Australian rake a positive send off.

“We owe it to him for everything he's done for Australian rugby in general. I don't think you'll find another front rower who plays 120 Test matches, it's unheard of," he said.

“The boys are rallying up for this game.

“The testament to a great team is how you bounce back after a loss so the boys will definitely be up this week and we're ready to go and ready to finish this tour on a high.”

The Wallabies take on Scotland on Saturday November 25, kicking off at 2:30pm local, Sunday 1:30am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS Viceland.