Rugby Championship
Family key in Stephen Moore's captaincy comeback
Sam Bruce
July 15, 2015
Stephen Moore © Image Supplied: HSBC Sport
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Stephen Moore right leader for young Wallabies
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There will likely be one person at the forefront of Stephen Moore's mind when he runs out to commence his second coming as Wallabies captain in Brisbane on Saturday.

It won't be Michael Cheika, the man who's afforded him a second crack at the captain's armband or his deputies, Michael Hooper or Adam Ashley-Cooper, whom the coach consulted before settling on his decision. Moore's rehab team in Canberra or Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham perhaps? Fine candidates indeed; yet still not worthy of the No.1 spot.

As Moore leads the Wallabies onto the pitch at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, wife Courtney will occupy her rightful share of the Test skipper's thoughts following a whirlwind 13 months that began on the same patch of turf.

"My wife actually had a baby about a month after I hurt my knee; so she had three kids there for a while, a newborn and me on the couch with my brace and my crutches," the HSBC ambassador told ESPN of the weeks that followed his season-ending knee injury. "So I was very grateful to have that period because it was a big buzz and a real period of excitement in my life, and probably took a little bit of my mind away from what was going on with the footy and my knee."

Stephen Moore showcases the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup 2015 jersey, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, June 10, 2015
Stephen Moore © Image courtesy Asics / Australian Rugby Union
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Five minutes - that was all Moore lasted in his first match as Wallabies captain. Having been named skipper by now former coach Ewen McKenzie, the veteran hooker suffered a serious knee injury while making a tackle in the opening Test against France. Season over.

But where most players struggle to handle those first few weeks of devastation before the rehabilitation process begins, Moore's pain was pushed aside by the new arrival and the chance to spend quality time with his young family.

"It put it all in perspective a fair bit and, in the same breath, there a lot of people worse off than I was. And I was very grateful to have all I had, and they [my family] kept me pretty positive through the whole rehab; so yeah, family definitely played a big part. And as bad as it was, it gave me an opportunity to spend some time with my family and a bit of time at home, and mentally I think that really freshened me up for this year. I certainly went into this year, both Super Rugby and now the Test season, I'm pretty fresh mentally."

 
"We want the 40-plus guys who have been in and around this set-up now throughout the year to be able to slot in there and do a job at any point in time"
 

The Wallabies have suffered a run of serious knee injuries in recent times with the likes of Quade Cooper, David Pocock (twice) and Waratahs captain Dave Dennis all undergoing reconstructive surgery. The timeframe for a return is between six and nine months, and Moore said it wasn't until the middle part of the Super Rugby season that he started to feel like he was somewhere near his best.

"Yeah it took a while; that's for sure," Moore said. "In the early part of the season I started coming off the bench and I think that was a really good way for me to get back on the field. And I was grateful to the Brumbies that they managed me back through that period of playing; sort of 20 minutes initially, up to 30 or 40 and then eventually playing a few more minutes.

"I think that really helped me get my confidence back, and physically feel good. And I guess it wasn't until probably midway through the competition, I suppose, that I started to feel that I was getting back to somewhere near my best footy. And having not been through that type of injury before, there's certainly a big challenge to get back to where you were previously, both physically and mentally. Looking back on that now, you realise it's a pretty long process and you can understand what people go through when they have those major surgeries and are coming back to play now."

Gregan names his Wallabies squad
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Moore will be out to exorcise the injury demons when the Wallabies confront the Springboks in their Rugby Championship opener back at Suncorp Stadium this weekend. The hosts are set to field a vastly different outfit to that which started the final Test of 2014 - against England at Twickenham - with Moore and full-back Israel Folau the only selection guarantees.

Cheika will reveal all on Thursday, though Moore said the coach had already laid down a "40-man squad" philosophy and a desire to have any player step in and do a job when called upon.

"This is probably the most depth that I've seen in my time with the Wallabies, and I think Cheik will find it very difficult to pick the side," Moore said. "There are certainly lots of positions where there are a couple of guys who can step in there; and that's what we want. We want the 40-plus guys who have been in and around this set-up now throughout the year to be able to slot in there and do a job at any point in time.

"And I guess that comes back to everyone being across on how we want to play and everyone being clear on what our identity is, what our structures are so that it doesn't matter really who pulls the jersey on that everyone can do the job and they know exactly what their role is in the team, and they can go on and do that job really well."

HSBC is proud to partner the Wallabies, and shares their ambition to strive for success as they take on the rest of the world in 2015. For more information on HSBC's partnerships visit @HSBC_Sport

Stephen Moore spoke to ESPN in his role as an HSBC ambassador © Image Supplied: HSBC Sport
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