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Two Irishmen a chance to lift Rugby World Cup

July 6, 2015 • Rugby, Sport,

Wallaby skipper Stephen Moore spent his early years in Galway.

Wallaby skipper for 2015 Stephen Moore spent his early years in Galway.

When the William Webb-Ellis trophy is presented to the winning captain after the Rugby World Cup final in November, there is now a double chance that an Irish citizen will hoist the cup aloft.

Irish fans will be hoping that man is Paul O’Connell, Ireland’s iconic skipper. But it is equally possible that Stephen Moore will be given that honour.

Moore has just been named as the skipper of the Wallabies for the 2015 international season.

The 32-year-old spent his early years in Ireland even if he was born in Saudi Arabia before moving to Queensland at the age of five.

“He is Saudi Arabia’s most famous rugby player,” his father Tom jokingly told us last year.

It is Moore’s second stint as captain of the Wallabies and he will be hoping that this time he gets to wear the coveted armband for more than five minutes.

Moore suffered a serious knee injury in the opening minutes of last year’s first test against France in Brisbane.

He was forced from the field and had to undergo surgery which kept him out of the game for six months.

He returned to action at the beginning of 2015 with the ACT Brumbies and his good form has been rewarded with Wallabies selection and the captaincy.

Coach Michael Cheika heaped praise on the 92-test veteran.

“Stephen is not only a player who leads by example on the field, but he is a man who exemplifies the qualities of a Wallabies captain and it is a testament to his character that he has been able to overcome a setback and put himself in a position to lead his country again,” he said.

“He has a tremendous amount of respect not only from within this playing group, but across the board in our organisation and universally within the game.”

Moore was approached to play for Ireland when he was a teenager.

After briefly considering it, he made up his mind to aim for the Wallabies instead.

“That was a long time ago, very early on in my career, so I wasn’t really thinking about playing internationally at that stage, I was only playing under-19s rugby in Brisbane,” he said in 2013 when the Wallabies were in Dublin.

“There was a bit of interest there, obviously with my background, but I think at the time my head was spinning about everything …

“When it came down to it, it wasn’t a difficult decision. I had always grown up following Australia and wanting to play for the Wallabies,” he said.

“I’ve been in Australia since I was five years old, I’ve grown up in Australia and I consider myself a proud Australian.

“So I’m very glad I’ve had the opportunity to play for Australia so many times, it’s very special to me. But in saying that, I’m very proud of my heritage.”

Moore is a follower of Gaelic football – where he supports Meath – and the International Rules series.

“My cousin [Patrick O’Rourke] was the goalkeeper for the Irish team against the Australian team, so I follow him pretty closely. My dad’s from Galway and my mum from Mayo, so there’s always a lot of talk about their football team too,” he said.

At the announcement of his captaincy, Moore said: “It’s an honour every time you get to wear the Wallabies jumper, and to be captain is extra special, but ultimately it’s what you do with it that is most important.

“It was extremely humbling to have the opportunity last year but it went very quickly, so to be given another chance to represent this group that has so many leaders is a privilege, and something I hold dearly.

“Australian Rugby is lucky to have many good leaders in this team who lead by actions and we have already spent some quality time together, defining our identity, what we are about and what we stand for.

“I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the next four months.”

 

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