Rugby Championship
Old dogs ready to bite in Australia's second-row
Sam Bruce
August 7, 2015
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore talks exclusively to ESPN's Sam Bruce

Stephen Moore has paid tribute to Dean Mumm after the second-rower was rewarded with his first Test start since returning from Europe, the Wallabies captain saying the Auckland-born New South Welshman is a much improved player for his time with Aviva Premiership club Exeter Chiefs.

Mumm departed Australia after the 2012 season, the winner of 83 Super Rugby caps for New South Wales Waratahs, but he was a somewhat controversial Wallabies selection after making just three more appearances upon returning home midway through the 2015 season.

Mumm won his first Test cap since returning home off the bench against Argentina in Mendoza, making quite the impact in scoring a barnstorming try and helping to shore up the scrum against the fabled Pumas set-piece. And Moore said the lock had "learned a lot up there in his couple of seasons [in Europe]".

Dean Mumm made a huge impact for the Wallabies off the bench in Argentina © Getty Images

"I've been really impressed with Deano since he's come back from the UK," Moore told ESPN at the HSBC All Access Experience in Sydney on Thursday. "I think he's learned a lot up there in his couple of seasons and I know he played really well up there and he's certainly transferred that in the opportunities he's had so far. He certainly deserves to be starting this weekend."

Rugby Championship Preview: Australia v New Zealand

Mumm will partner James Horwill in the second-row against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship-deciding Bledisloe Cup Test at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, a starting combination about which you'd have got long odds even halfway through the Super Rugby season. Mumm, publically at least, was not on the radar, while Horwill collected yellow and red cards seemingly at will in Queensland Reds' difficult campaign. But Cheika lured Mumm home to the Waratahs, and the coach told Greg Growden in an exclusive wide-ranging interview for ESPN that Horwill was "a different animal" in the Wallabies camp.

Horwill made a substantial impact of the bench against South Africa in Australia's first Test of the season, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, and the former Wallabies captain told ESPN that he was "very excited" to be starting after missing the Pumas Test.

"It's great to get an opportunity in such a big game."

Horwill said the Wallabies had focused on themselves in what he and Moore both described as a "brutal" and "physical" preparation for the All Blacks, the second-rower saying "we've been focused on what we need to do".

"We haven't really spoken about New Zealand too much. We've spoken about what we need to do in our game. We want to implement our game on them."

Wallabies need to feel the heat: Cheika

And that, Moore said, is why training had been so hard physically because we hope to play as we train.

"It's been pretty brutal," Moore said of the sessions on the paddock. "As it has been the last couple of weeks with Cheik. Certainly a lot of work at training; a lot of hard work. We've had a good week this week but now we just want to get out and play.

"You certainly get used to that style of training even after three weeks I've found my body's got used to it, just doing a bit more contact at training. So I guess the process there has been about getting us battle-ready for the Test."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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