Rugby Union

Christian Lealiifano joins Stephen Moore in ACT Brumbies co-captains role

Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore says having two captains is "the way forward" for rugby teams, adding he thought he could lose his ACT Brumbies leadership role when he signed a deal with the Queensland Reds from 2017.

Christian Lealiifano and Stephen Moore will share the Brumbies' captaincy duties this year.
Christian Lealiifano and Stephen Moore will share the Brumbies' captaincy duties this year. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The Brumbies have turned to Moore and Christian Lealiifano to take charge of the Super Rugby campaign this year, unveiled as a new-look leadership team on Friday and the first co-captains in the club's history.

The decision comes a month out from the start of the season and is a double boost for Lealiifano after the key playmaker signed a new deal earlier this week to stay with the Brumbies until at least 2018.

Christian Lealiifano and Stephen Moore will share on-field duties, including talking to referees, this season.
Christian Lealiifano and Stephen Moore will share on-field duties, including talking to referees, this season. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

It also followed Moore's decision to join the Reds at the end of the year in a move that left the Brumbeis shocked.

Coach Stephen Larkham played down any suggestion of succession planning, but Lealiifano will get a perfect chance to learn form one of the most respected figures in Australian rugby in his last season in Canberra.


Moore, 33, is determined to leave Canberra on a high and has made the Brumbies' title quest his No. 1 focus, but conceded he was unsure of his captaincy role when he signed with the Reds.

"When these type of things happen, and particularly given some of the initial reaction, I certainly thought [losing the captaincy] might happen. That comes into your decision-making. But that's all behind us now and this is the way forward," Moore said.

"It doesn't matter who's going where next year, this group has an opportunity to do something this year and whatever that is will be in the history books.

"I want to continue to grow as a leader and I think that will happen with this structure."

Moore and Lealiifano will work together over the next four weeks to ensure there is clarity in their roles on game day and at training to ensure there are no mixed messages being passed to the squad.

Larkham cut the leadership group from six to three last year, and has now scrapped vice-captains in favour of co-captains and a senior players group.

Moore said it was up to he and Lealiifano to prove that the system could work without any hitches.

"Christian knows the place inside out and thoroughly deserves this opportunity, I'll certainly be helping him in any way I can from what I've learnt," Moore said.

"I've always gone to Christian with things about the team and this just makes it more official, I don't think our relationship will change too much.

"We just have to make sure this can work. There will be people out there that think it can't work so it's up to us to make sure that it does.

"Whenever this structure is in place you have to be really clear on everyone's roles and responsibilities. But I think the whole concept of co-leadership is the way forward. Leaving it to one person is not necessarily the best way to do it."

Lealiifano and Moore will share on-field duties, including talking to referees, and the first test could be against the NSW Waratahs in a pre-season trial in Wagga next weekend if they both play.

The Brumbies boast an impressive list of past leaders, including George Gregan, Owen Finegan, Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau and Brett Robinson.

Asked if he saw the co-captaincy job as an apprenticeship for the future, Lealiifano said: "I think a little bit, it's been a 10-year apprenticeship for me.

"To be a co-leader with Stephen Moore is a massive moment, it's an absolute honour and very humbling. Whatever I can learn and take forward to improve as a player and leader, I'll take on board.

"I think it's a pretty seamless transition, there will be learns and challenges we'll face along the way together. But when you've got two guys working towards a common goal, you can't go wrong.

"We're both passionate about moving this team forward and we see it as something we have to work through together."

Larkham has been mulling over the decision since the start of pre-season training last year, with David Pocock and Scott Fardy also leading candidates.

​"It will lessen the load on individuals ... both have attributes of good leaders and together they're going to be great for us," Larkham said.

"Nothing is set in stone [for the future]. Christian is very compassionate among the boys, and a natural leader. They'll complement each other and I think they'll be a great team."

The Brumbies play the Waratahs and Reds in trial matches before starting the season against the Wellington Hurricanes on February 26.