Stephen Moore (Gallo Images)
Teddington – Australia have found unity in a year under tough-talking coach Michael Cheika, team skipper Stephen Moore told AFP.
The 32-year-old hooker — who will win his 101st cap at Twickenham against Argentina on Sunday — said the change in mindset among players has been the pivotal factor in Australia reaching the World Cup semi-finals.
Cheika’s focus on character has transformed a demoralised faction-riven outfit, he said.
The coach has inflicted a tough training regime aimed at squeezing every bit of skill out of the team. He also demands loyalty to the cause.
“I think the biggest difference since he arrived is probably getting everybody on the same page and getting everyone aligned in the same way with regards to what we stand for, who we are playing for and who we are representing,” Moore told AFP.
“He has succeeded in bringing players closer together from different teams across Australia and creating special bonds.
“We have become a very tight-knit group.
“However, we are certainly not looking backwards but very
Moore, born in Saudi Arabia of Irish parentage, said a sense of being there for each other had not been a feature of Wallabies teams he has known in his decade of Test duty.
“I think we have worked harder on that (team unity) than ever before,” he said.
“I’ve been in some teams before when I have felt that has not been the case for whatever reason.
“However, for a year the big focus has been on unity and it has been a big benefit for us.”
Moore, whose nickname ‘Squeak’ comes from when he gave a speech in a Japanese class which went wrong because his voice was breaking, said he had a major responsibility to make sure the solidarity does not break down on the pitch.
“It is part of my job as captain to imbue this spirit on the pitch and I certainly look to other leaders in the group (Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Michael Hooper) to also transmit this,” said Moore.
“I have some quality guys, as that is important to have those sort of people to show the way to less experienced players.”
Moore, who skippered the Mount Morgan Under-8 side in Queensland and has stuck to the task since, envisages the Wallabies will need all that character to overcome a vibrant Argentina team which dismantled European champions Ireland last Sunday.
“As a front rower the set piece, the scrum, the lineout and the driving maul will be huge weapons to counter,” he said.
“But they have developed a very attacking game, lots of
Moore, who earned praise this year when he supported Brumbies team-mate David Pocock in halting a Super Rugby game with Cheika’s Waratahs after homophobic remarks were made, said the important thing on Sunday if they got into difficulty was for the senior players to keep the ship steady.
“The guys who have been there before can lead the way as they know the level of intensity of the game is going to be higher than previous ones,” said Moore.
“It is for us to get that message across to the younger players.”