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Moore had thoughts of Ireland

2015-10-30 10:04
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 boy.

"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 clear.

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 this year.

"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 opportunity again.

"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."

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