End game for Moore as Scot­land and Aus­tralia re­new tense ri­valry

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS -

Aus­tralia are de­ter­mined to send Stephen Moore off in style as the hooker bows out of pro­fes­sional rugby at Mur­ray­field this af­ter­noon.

The for­mer Wal­la­bies skip­per con­firmed his de­ci­sion to re­tire from the game ear­lier this week, bring­ing an end to a 12-year in­ter­na­tional ca­reer which has seen him win 128 caps for his coun­try.

Moore was named in Michael Cheika’s side to line up against Scot­land as they look to gain re­venge for de­feat in Syd­ney in the sum­mer, and as­sis­tant coach Nathan Grey has praised the hooker’s im­pact on the game.

“Stephen Moore’s 400th test I think it is!” he joked. “He’s a real great ex­am­ple of what rugby is all about. He’s in the group at the mo­ment as the elder states­man, and it’s in­ter­est­ing see­ing him sit down at meal times and chat with the other guys - some­times the mu­sic choices are a bit above his head!

“He’s a re­ally good ex­am­ple for a lot of our younger play­ers and new guys com­ing through; what it takes to be a real pro­fes­sional and what to be able to per­form at this level for such a long pe­riod of time.

“It’s a real trib­ute to him as a man. We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to play­ing well for Steve to­mor­row.”

Dra­matic

Scot­land and Aus­tralia have en­joyed a string of close matches in re­cent years, with the Wal­la­bies win­ning the pre­vi­ous two be­fore June by just a sin­gle point, while it is three apiece in the last six meet­ings be­tween the coun­tries. As well as the win in Syd­ney, Scot­land go into the game on some­thing of a high af­ter al­most snatch­ing a dra­matic win against the All Blacks last week, and Grey sin­gled out two men in par­tic­u­lar who will pose a threat to his de­fen­sive sys­tem.

“(Stu­art) Hogg at the back, and Finn Rus­sell,” he said. “If you pro­vide them with any turnover ball or un­struc­tured op­por­tu­ni­ties, they are ex­cep­tional in terms of find­ing space with their feet, but also iden­ti­fy­ing poor de­fend­ing and lapses in the de­fen­sive line.

“Finn backs him­self to carry through a whole team any­way, he’s a very skil­ful player so that’s one side to it. Their de­fen­sive break­down is very good (too).”

De­spite los­ing 30-6 to Eng­land last week­end, Scot­land cap­tain John Bar­clay is ex­pect­ing Aus­tralia to come fly­ing out of the blocks.

At­tack­ing

“It will be slightly dif­fer­ent,” he said. “They play as good, if not a bet­ter brand of at­tack­ing rugby than New Zealand.

“They play a very fast game and get very clean ball at the break­down, so it is a big chal­lenge.”

When Scot­land emerged tri­umphant in Syd­ney in June, their achieve­ments were down­played with some in­sist­ing the Wal­la­bies were a shadow of their for­mer selves. How­ever Bar­clay is re­fus­ing to take them lightly.

He said: “I think they were a good side in the sum­mer. I found it bizarre that peo­ple were say­ing in the sum­mer that they were on a bit of a down­ward slope.”

Stephen Moore: hooker bows out of rugby at Mur­ray­field this af­ter­noon

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