Tuesday 26 September 2017

Moore's loyalties remain undivided despite his green roots

Conor George

Conor George

TEN years ago Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore discussed the future course of his rugby career with his family.

He was 20 years of age, had already represented Australia at U-19 level and had made his Super Rugby debut for the Queensland Reds that season. He was very much on the Wallabies' radar and was being tipped as a certainty to play for the senior international side.

Those who predicted a bright future for him have not been disappointed. He represented Australia at the 2003 and 2004 U-21 World Championships. He made his debut for the Wallabies alongside fellow debutant Rocky Elsom against Samoa in 2005. Today he will win his 77th cap.

"To play against the Lions is a very special thing," said Moore. "Some of the best Wallabies players have never had that opportunity. It's 12 years between series. These opportunities are special."

Had that family conversation in 2003 gone differently it is entirely possible Moore might still be playing in this morning's Test – but as a Lion representing Ireland.

Moore was born in Saudi Arabia in 1983 to Tom and Maureen Moore. Tom is originally from Galway, Maureen from Mayo and two of Stephen's sisters were born in Ireland. The family emigrated to Mount Morgan, Queensland, Australia, in 1988 from their home in Tuam when Stephen was five years of age.

The possibility of Stephen playing for Ireland was broached during that family meeting in 2003 – he cites former Ireland captain Keith Wood as one of his heroes – but only briefly.

"I loved watching and following Keith Wood's career," he said. "Everyone knows how much I admired him as a player and I remember watching him play on the 2001 Lions tour to Australia. For me he's one of the true icons in the game."

His Irish heritage won't be an issue today. Moore is very proud to be an Australian international, as are his family. "I do worry about mum every so often, though," he laughed at yesterday's Captain's Run.

Moore and his Durban-born wife Courtney celebrated the birth of their first child Theodore earlier this year and the hooker is determined to make 2013 a year to truly remember by adding a Lions series victory to his CV before helping the Brumbies to a Super Rugby title.

"It's a special time but the Lions are a good outfit," he said. "They have quality throughout their side, especially in the front-row, and we are certainly going to have our work cut out for us."

Irish Independent

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