GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: Stephen Moore poses during an Australian Wallabies portrait session at Sanctuary Cove on June 1, 2014 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) Photo: Chris HydeThe ACT Brumbies have endorsed Stephen Moore’s Wallabies captaincy potential. Coach Stephen Larkham said the 91-Test hooker is the ”ideal man” to lead Australia to a successful World Cup campaign next year.
Moore is expected to be unveiled as the Wallabies’ new captain on Monday, taking charge of the team as it prepares for a three-Test series against France and the build-up to the World Cup in England.
Outgoing Test skipper Ben Mowen says he will be ”insanely jealous” when the Wallabies run out in the series opener in Brisbane on Saturday night, but insists he is ”content” with his decision to quit the role to move his career to France at the end of the year.
Highly respected Moore will get his chance to lead the Wallabies almost a decade after starting his Test career. Larkham believes the 31-year-old is suited to a leadership role.
”One hundred per cent he’s a good choice,” Larkham said.
”He speaks well in front of the group, always says the right things and is very disciplined off the field. He’s been the most consistent performer for the Wallabies in the past year, and for the Brumbies. He’s continually putting in and leading off the field and leading by example on the field.
”I’d 100 per cent back the decision to have him as the captain of the Wallabies. He’s a fantastic leader.”
Moore has been backed by World Cup-winning coaches Rod Macqueen and Bob Dwyer and former Wallabies skipper Nick Farr-Jones as the man to replace Mowen.
The decision to have Moore installed as the new captain was reportedly approved at an ARU board meeting last week.
Moore was a leading candidate with former captains James Horwill and Will Genia, and a future leader, 22-year-old flanker Michael Hooper.
But with just a year to prepare for the World Cup, coach Ewen McKenzie is set to back Moore as the leader of his squad.
The Wallabies were dealt a blow on the weekend with prop Ben Alexander ruled out for at least the first two Tests against France as he battles an ongoing nerve compression injury.
McKenzie suffered the same injury when he was a player, admitting he is still plagued by muscle wastage in one of his arms after years of scrum battles.
Alexander will have a cortisone injection to ease the pain and could be back for the third Test, but it’s more likely he will return to action for the Brumbies’ charge to the Super Rugby finals.
The injury has resulted in Alexander losing significant strength in one side of his body.
”The injury is one I understand quite well, being a former tighthead prop, and while not a sinister issue, it can significantly influence performance due to the impact it has on a player’s overall strength,” McKenzie said.
”In Ben’s instance, it has been admirable to see him push through the pain at a Super Rugby level.”
Mowen was left with a massive black eye after the Brumbies beat the Melbourne Rebels 37-10 on Saturday night. The Super Rugby captain is also nursing a bruised sternum.
Mowen announced in January he was quitting Australian rugby at the end of the year to move his career to France, walking away from the chance to lead the Wallabies to the World Cup.
Instead of joining the Wallabies in camp, Mowen will have a week of rest before returning to Brumbies training and playing club rugby for the Tuggeranong Vikings in the coming weeks.
It’s a long way from the international arena, but Mowen said he was happy to move on. He was confident the Wallabies had ample leaders to cover his departure.
”There’s outstanding leadership right across that group. The Wallabies are in a good space,” Mowen said.
”I’m very content, to be honest. I absolutely loved my time with the Wallabies and I’ll be intensely jealous when they run out, sing the anthem and get to play. But I’m content with where my future is.”
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