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Stephen Moore to lead Wallabies against French

THE BREAKDOWN

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Waratahs title credentials on the line

The Waratahs have a big chance of winning the competition if they can beat the defending champs, the Chiefs in New Zealand.

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Stephen Moore has emerged as the frontrunner for the Wallabies captaincy just days out from Monday's announcement on the Gold Coast.

Despite coach Ewen McKenzie's high praise of Michael Hooper at the Wallabies launch last week, the Breakdown understands Moore had been told two weeks earlier that he was McKenzie's choice and would have Hooper as his deputy.

If true, the announcement on Monday will be the crowning glory in a stellar career for the 91-Test Wallabies stalwart.

Brumbies player Stephen Moore.

Brumbies player Stephen Moore. Photo: Melissa Adams

Moore wouldn't see it that way, reserving that language for the day he holds a Webb Ellis Trophy or Bledisloe Cup aloft. Which is exactly why he will be perfect for the job.

CHEIKA PUZZLED OVER ROBBO SNUB

It was not lost on Michael Cheika that the only prop included in Ewen McKenzie's Wallabies squad last week was the one who has not been part of the Waratahs' starting side for the past three matches.

Cheika said he was disappointed Benn Robinson was left out of McKenzie's 32-man line-up, while Sekope Kepu was named and Paddy Ryan was earmarked for the wider training gorup.

The NSW coach vowed to use Saturday's Chiefs clash, in which Robinson will wear the No.1 jersey, to help his 67-Test loose-head prove his value.

"No one's hard done by, that's the way selections go, but what we need to do is try to help them," Cheika said.

"The coach would have given them some quite specific reasons why and what I need to do before the Chiefs game – because it's the last chance – is to tap into those things the guys have been left out for and try to get them going better. I feel that responsibility to them as their coach."

MEMO TO NEW SEVENS COACH

Big news this week is that Canada head sevens coach Geraint John will lead the Australians on the path to Rio in 2016.

John will join the team at the end of June and take them to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before preparing them for the most important few months of the team's existence: Olympic qualification via the IRB Sevens World Series.

The men and the women must finish in the top four to automatically qualify. If they fail, they face a circuitous regional qualification process. The men managed fifth in this year's tournament, but face ongoing challenges that John will tackle during the next few months.

In honour of his impending arrival, the Breakdown presents a few salient facts about the men he'll be coaching. Consider it John's briefing note for the handover.

  • They are small(ish). Compared with world-series champions New Zealand, who weigh in at between 96 kilograms and 97kg on average, the Australians average 91kg. The trend is heading inexorably upwards and players such as Tom Cusack (103kg) are the future. 
  • They are innovators – because of the first point. Under long-serving former coach Mick O'Connor, Australia pioneered the way the attacking breakdown is played to cut down on costly turnovers. The players go in square on and on their knees before rolling the ball back instead of just placing it. In defence they have also changed the game, again because they lack the size of their bigger rivals. It has required a lot of advocacy with referees but the tweaks have given Australia an edge over much larger teams (John's Canada included). Many countries began copying the techniques. 
  • They boast several world-class players but need a few game-breakers. Hence the interest in Israel Folau and Michael Hooper making a foray into sevens. Rebels youngster Sean McMahon was also on O'Connnor's wish list. The 19-year-old was the country's youngest ever men's sevens player and made himself indispensible during two seasons. His move to Super Rugby hurt big time.
  • The newcomers will need time. If John wants to recruit from Super Rugby for the Rio campaign, he has time on his side. Any Test players involved in the Wallabies' World Cup squad could join the sevens team after a short break. O'Connor said Super Rugby players needed to make it to at least four world-series tournaments in 2016 before heading to the Olympics.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP LOOMS LARGE
 
One of the most unlikely alliances in Australian rugby was formalised this week after the formation of National Rugby Championship entrants the North Harbour Rays. 
 
Fierce Sydney premier rugby rivals Manly, Warringah, Norths and Gordon broke bread and signed a few papers at Lindfield on Wednesday to officially launch their joint venture NRC team. 
 
The competition is now just two months from kick-off, and the first round will be played the week after the Super Rugby final on August 2. 
 
The ARU is finalising details on the draw and squad rosters, but it is understood the Wallabies players who go into camp on Sunday will sign their NRC paperwork – requiring them to nominate their preferred team – as early as next week. 
 
There is little chance Test luminaries such as Folau, Hooper, Quade Cooper, Will Genia and the like will make an appearance during the competition because the Wallabies' Rugby Championship campaign will be under way at the same time. 
 
But McKenzie could use the tournament – the only other rugby played in Australia at the time – to give players outside the match 23 a run when the squad is in Australia. 

7 comments so far

  • Congratulations Moore
    Right man for the job.....great choice. Total respect for a guy who puts in and fronts up evry time..........at all levels
    To me he is in the Mortlock mould. A guy that leads from the front
    There were so many other bad candidates. At last a decision I applaud from the wallabies

    Commenter
    Headed off
    Location
    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Date and time
    May 29, 2014, 9:33PM
    • As to Robinson aka fat man, rolly polly or in my case i see him as a Lollypop man....traffic warden.............always at the side of the R& M's.Another great deciion.....he is not past it...........he never was up to snuff. Would not get a run in an ITM 2nd tier team in NZ.
      Having said that the other props are in for a torrid year....I dont rate any other than Ryan.

      Commenter
      Headed off
      Location
      Bucaramanga, Colombia
      Date and time
      May 29, 2014, 9:37PM
      • @ Headed off

        Geez.... if you're going to totally bag someone at least get their name right.... it's 'fat cat' !

        Agree with your comments on Moore should he be named Wallaby captain.

        Commenter
        Machooka
        Location
        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        May 30, 2014, 9:16AM
      • Every week you take the trouble to write in from Colombia to have a swipe, put down, or abuse something about Australian rugby. You are to me the epitome of everything kiwi; dour, chippy, negative and small minded. Here's a tip, when you have finished backpacking in your All Blacks jersey (lets face the only contribution NZ has ever made to its own notoriety). Why not just shut up and go back to your little island in the middle of nowhere.

        Commenter
        Rod
        Location
        Taylor
        Date and time
        May 31, 2014, 11:22AM
    • Steven Moore would be a great choice for Captian

      Commenter
      Tommy gun
      Date and time
      May 29, 2014, 11:26PM
      • I hope you are right Georgina. It would be a tremendous fillip for Australian rugby. Moore is all class. Warren Gatland, another useless kiwi coach, made a huge mistake appointing a young No.7 Sam Warburton as Wales captain prior to the 2011 World Cup. The pressure was just too much. Onwards and upwards. Australian rugby needs more and wants more.

        Commenter
        johnny-boy
        Date and time
        May 30, 2014, 10:50AM
        • I have a problem with him being Captain - as Polatu Nau will no doubt be on the bench and come on with 20 mins to go for impact. Much prefer a captain who will play the full 80 mins. ie Hooper

          Commenter
          No More
          Date and time
          May 30, 2014, 11:23AM

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