End game for Moore as Scotland and Australia renew tense rivalry
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.”
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.
“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