Stephen Moore would be a "safe pair of hands" for the leadership reins. Photo: Jay Cronan
World Cup-winning captains, coaches and players have backed Stephen Moore as the man to lead the Wallabies into the future, Nick Farr-Jones declaring the ACT Brumbies hooker would be a "safe pair of hands" for the leadership reins.
Moore has emerged as the front-runner for the captaincy job as Test coach Ewen McKenzie starts planning for the World Cup.
Farr-Jones, Owen Finegan, Rod Macqueen and Bob Dwyer all believe Moore is ready to shoulder the captaincy duties and lead the Wallabies into their World Cup campaign next year, while Phil Kearns is torn between Moore and Michael Hooper.
McKenzie will announce his new captain on Monday when the team assembles in camp for a three-Test series against France, but Moore's focus is on helping the Brumbies avoid three losses in a row for the first time since 2011.
Moore's credentials – 91 Tests, 130 Super Rugby games, 11 years of experience and two World Cups – are undeniable.
Hooper, James Horwill, Will Genia and Scott Higginbotham are also highly regarded candidates for the job, and a panel of experts dissected the leadership decision.
Farr-Jones led the Wallabies to their 1991 World Cup triumph and is rated as one of Australia's greatest leaders.
He said the No.1 priority for the new skipper was that they would automatically be picked in the starting side and lead by example.
"I think Moore and Hooper are the guys who tick the boxes there," Farr-Jones said.
"Moore, he's an automatic selection, he's the bellybutton of the team as far as being in the middle of the scrum, and I think he would be a safe pair of hands for the job.
"I believe the decision has to be with a view to the World Cup and having a consistent captain through to next year."
Finegan believes appointing Moore as the new Test skipper would be the "best decision Australian rugby union has made in a number of years".
Former Test coach John Connolly said this week he almost appointed Moore as the Wallabies captain before the 2007 World Cup before opting for the experience of Stirling Mortlock.
Moore has been a mainstay in the Wallabies set-up since making his international debut in 2003 and has been in superb form for the Brumbies.
"He's just got the right attitude, he's a consistent footballer as well. Genia and Horwill have been hot and cold," Finegan said.
"What you see with [Moore] is what you get. He's not going to bring X-factor to the game, but he's one of the best set-piece technicians in the world.
"He's physical and aggressive around the field ... I think he would be a good leader. There are lots of attributes that you want in a good leader.
"When games are tight, you need a good old head, and he reads the game very well."
Former Test coach Macqueen teamed with captain John Eales to lead the Wallabies through their most successful era in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Macqueen said good Wallabies teams had been blessed with a plethora of great leaders, not just one captain.
"I'm not close enough to the Wallabies now, but I think Moore has proven himself," Macqueen said.
"He's one of the first picked in the Wallabies these days and he's shown himself, in my opinion, that he's the sort of person that could do very well. He's a viable option.
"To give ourselves the best chance to do well at the World Cup, the more consistency we've got, the better chance we've got."
Hooper, 22, appears destined to be a Wallabies captain in the future.
The former Brumbies flanker and NSW Waratahs star has cemented his standing as Australia's premier No.7 in David Pocock's absence.
"You need a mix of experience and youth ... if all your leaders are the elders in the side, the decision making can go one way. But I think this is a good squad and Ewen will be looking to the future and the World Cup," Macqueen said.
Kearns is torn between Moore and Hooper to be the new Wallabies captain, adding "I don't think you can lose with either of them".
Moore has the experience, but Hooper is a rising star and already a leader despite his age.
"Maybe if they pick Stephen Moore, then the next obvious guy is Hooper to learn from him," Kearns said.
"I think Michael Hooper has shown enough in his career already to show the mature individual he is and that he can handle the role."
The captaincy duties come with greater expectation and responsibility on and off the field.
Kearns said "tough, disciplined and a good work ethic" were essential traits for the new captain. He wanted the Wallabies to settle on a skipper after four leaders in the past two years.
World Cup-winning coach Dwyer's initial preference was to retain Ben Mowen as the Wallabies leader, despite his impending defection to France at the end of the season.
But with McKenzie opting to leave departing players out of the Wallabies squad as he begins planning for the World Cup, Dwyer said: "Stephen Moore is the front-runner for me".
"My criteria for captain is that he's got to be a certain selection, and then he's got to be the sort of person people look up to," he added.
"Stephen Moore clearly satisfies those criteria. He's been a consistent, good player and has probably never played better than he his now ... undoubtedly a world-class player.
"I think [Hooper's] time will come and I think I'd make Steve captain [now]."