Rugby Union

Stephen Moore focused on Brumbies, but keen to captain Wallabies at World Cup

It's one step at a time for Brumbies captain Stephen Moore, starting with leading the Super Rugby side, followed by putting his hand up for a second stint leading his country.

Moore's focus – understandable given he has spent the past six months recovering from a knee reconstruction – is returning to the form that has made him the premier hooker in Australia.

Stephen Moore works out in a foam pit as part of his recovery from knee surgery.
Stephen Moore works out in a foam pit as part of his recovery from knee surgery. Photo: Jay Cronan

Once that is achieved, he is bound to be in the mix for captaincy of the Wallabies if coach Michael Cheika wants to switch from flanker Michael Hooper.

Moore tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the first five minutes of his first Test captaining the Wallabies, against France in June.

"If I stood here and said I didn't have aspirations to captain the Wallabies, I'd be lying," Moore said. "I got injured in my first Test after two minutes as captain.

"When that gets taken away from you so quick, of course you want to get back there. I want to prove to myself and my teammates that I can play at that level for Australia."

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Moore has returned to running in the past two weeks and has set his sights on leading the Brumbies for their round one Super Rugby match in February.

"I'm still only running in a straight line, but I've been doing a lot of work in the sandpit," Moore said. "Hopefully I'll start changing direction next week, then I'll start getting into the breakdown stuff and integrate with the team in the new year.

"That's the target, round one, I'm pretty optimistic about that. I'll be pushing pretty hard to get there for that game, but we'll know more in January."

Moore has extended his contract with the Brumbies and the Australian Rugby Union until the end of 2016.

He has taken over captaincy of the Brumbies from Ben Mowen, who is now playing his club rugby in France.

Moore's injury has allowed him to refresh mentally after being a regular on end-of-season spring tours for the past decade.

The Wallabies won just one of their four Tests on the spring tour, the worst result in nine years.

They had to deal with the departure of coach Ewen McKenzie on the eve of the tour and the addition of Super Rugby championship-winning boss Cheika.

"It was very challenging circumstances, with a new coach coming on three days out," Moore said. "The boys showed positive signs, but at the end of the day it's about winning. Michael Cheika will have a long-term plan.

"He's going to have to be creative how he goes about it in the next nine months before the World Cup.

"We saw how the teams up there [in the northern hemisphere] are going to play, so we have to find ways to counter that." 

Moore played a straight bat when asked whether he agreed with the ARU sanctioning his Brumbies teammate David Pocock for being arrested at a coalmine protest.

"That's a very sensitive matter – it's been commented on the last couple of days and I don't want to comment further," he said.