Stephen Moore (Gallo)
Teddington - Stephen Moore once thought
about playing for Ireland but will earn his 102nd cap leading Australia against
New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.
The 32-year-old shaven headed Moore is one
of the key members of the "jokers, lovers and fighters" that coach
Michael Cheika has pushed to the Twickenham final.
Moore was born in Saudi Arabia and lived in
Ireland for a while before his parents moved to Australia when he was a small
"Before I played for Australia, I
definitely had those thoughts when I was in my late teens, early 20s, of what
would it be like to go back to Ireland and play there," he told The Irish
Independent in 2013.
"Obviously I have very strong family
ties there and had been there as a child. I'm very proud of my history and my
ancestry there, but I think once I played for Australia that was my choice made
and I was very lucky to get that opportunity."
Moore made his debut in 2005 and has been a
squad regular ever since as hooker.
"I've been very lucky to have the
opportunity to play for Australia a lot and every moment of it's been fabulous.
I haven't regretted it at all.
"I think there are plenty of other
guys in that boat as well, particularly some of the Polynesian guys that have
played for Australia.
"They probably go through a similar
type of emotion where you can see that they have a very strong connection to
where they're from. I was very similar to that and I still am."
Moore resembles another top class hooker
from Ireland, Keith Wood, otherwise known as the 'Raging Potato. Despite his
performances he has not garnered the headlines like Matt Giteau, David Pocock
or Adam Ashley-Cooper.
He is a disciplinarian who prefers staying
out of the limelight, particularly at the team press conferences.
However, his leadership qualities are
He has brought rigour to the Australian
side and took a stand by backing Brumbies teammate Pocock when he complained
about homophobic comments made during a Super Rugby match against the Waratahs
"Like it or not we are role
models," he said.
"Some don't think that strongly, but I
believe we are. I saw the Wallabies as role models when I was a kid for many
different reasons. I am a bit of a traditionalist in that way."
Moore, whose nickname 'Squeak' is down to
giving a speech in Japanese class at school when his voice was breaking, did
not suffer for taking his stance. Waratahs coach of the time Cheika named him
the World Cup skipper in July.
"He told me the same time as everyone
else," Moore said of the moment he was named captain for the third time.
"It was a bit of a shock," he
added. "It was an emotional moment. It was very strange to get the
"It means a lot to me and I want to
make sure I do as best I can in whatever time I have got left."
For Moore this has been his golden period
since Cheika took over last October, not just because of the way the campaign
has gone but thanks to the atmosphere the coach has engendered.
He said in a recent interview that team
unity has been lacking in some recent squads.
"However, for a year the big focus has
been on unity and it has been a big benefit for us.
"He (Cheika) has succeeded in bringing
players closer together from different teams across Australia and creating
special bonds. We have become a very tight knit group."