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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Wallaby Moore hails 'great' O'Connell

Australia's Stephen Moore. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Australia's Stephen Moore. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND-BORN Australia-raised hooker Stephen Moore left Salthill in Galway when he was a five-year-old.

The first cousin of Meath goalkeeper Patrick O'Rourke has just a "vague" memory of those early years, returning home every two years and, surprisingly, playing Gaelic football at Brisbane Grammar as part of the physical education curriculum down there.

"My body type wasn't exactly suited to the game. I played at the back and punched the ball anytime it came near me," he said.

There is nothing vague about the Irish player he holds in greatest esteem: "Paul O'Connell, I would say, would be a guy I would really admire as a player (for) his longevity in the game," said Moore. "Without being in the team environment, it looks as though he is obviously held in very high regard by the players.

"That is something that is really admirable about any player.

"He is a great leader and has been for Munster and Ireland as well. He is a guy who I have watched over a long period of time. He's played at the top level for a long time."

Moore's coach Ewen McKenzie wants to take Australia back to their rugby roots as an innovative, entertaining brand that will encourage patrons to come through the turnstiles.

For that to happen, McKenzie has to look to the likes of captain Ben Mowen, lock James Horwill and Moore to set in cement the foundations of rock solid rugby.

"There is a fine line between playing winning rugby and attractive rugby," said Moore.

"I heard someone talking about Joe Schmidt in the same sort of light yesterday. They want to play attractive. But you still need to get your basics right.

"You've got to get the possession side of things right before you can worry about attacking. You can't have one without the other. As a front rower, I certainly take a very personal interest in the darker side of the game, in terms of that set piece, scrummaging, mauling, line-out."

It is only then that Will Genia and Quade Cooper can turn a trick or two.

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