New Wallabies captain Stephen Moore believes in the tough love approach

Stephen Moore woke early on Wednesday and was out among the birdsong in the early morning cool at Sanctuary Cove just after 7am.

So was Kurtley Beale. It was the Wallabies' day off but Moore had a 7.30am radio interview before a massage and more media commitments.

Beale was in the team room doing his homework, reviewing footage of the Waratahs' win against the Chiefs in New Zealand a week earlier.

The image was not lost on Moore, last of the great Wallabies statesmen, whose last Test-week interaction with Beale was a fiery reprimand for an infamous 4am burger excursion during the British and Irish Lions tour last year.

"That's a great thing for me to see as a captain," Moore said of their early-morning rendezvous this week. "He's up there getting physio, watching footage. He's got his head in the right place for Saturday and that's a great start for us."

Squeak, Moorey, Smoo, Steve. Moore has a few cute nicknames that might, were it not for his playing position and the particular set of a Test hooker, belie the hard-edged disciplinarian who now leads the Wallabies.

The 31-year-old's elevation to the captaincy after nine seasons and 91 Tests was a statement of the biggest kind from coach Ewen McKenzie.

Moore has long been respected as a player – a Test career spanning a decade will earn you at least that.

But his black and white views, on the world of professional sport and the requirements of the gold jersey, have at times put him at odds with his younger teammates and even one or two of his coaches.

McKenzie's stamp of approval was validation of his abrasive style and a warning to all players that his tough love approach had the backing of the national coach.

And yet Moore understands that the rigours of leadership – especially of a team with the age span and cultural diversity of the Wallabies – may require him to temper his abrasiveness.

"That's going to be something I'll constantly work on," he said. "I think when you're not captain you can have that more selfish approach and your accountability isn't as much. It's going to be important for me to make sure I manage all those relationships within the team."

Moore has this week praised Beale for his commitment and performance at the Waratahs, much as he did Quade Cooper when the once-outcast No.10 returned to the Wallabies a humbler and smarter man.

He also ventured last year that a leadership vacuum among the senior players was partly to blame for the rise of the so-called "three amigos", whose off-field exploits repeatedly held a struggling team to ransom under former coach Robbie Deans.

"That was a challenging period of time, there's no doubt, we were trying to get to where we wanted to go but there was a continuing flow of off-field distractions," he said.

"That's something I'm learning about all the time – how to approach that sort of thing. I don't think there's any one right way, but I certainly was hard on bad behaviour and I'll continue to be."

Moore wants to cut the crap. That means no booze bans or curfews – "rules just push people further away" – but no excuses either.

"I don't think there's a place for [bad behaviour] in what we're trying to do and I don't think people want to see it," he said.

"People who support the Wallabies at all levels don't really want to see poor behaviour off the field, or unprofessional behaviour. We need people to fall in love with the Wallabies all over again and that's going to come by our actions on the field but also how we carry ourselves off the field.

"That's something I'm going to be pretty hard on I think. Maybe hard isn't the right word but I'll do my best to make it clear to guys that I see that as being really important to the way we operate."

Play rugby for as long as Stephen Moore and you observe the gamut of Test captains, coaches, results and seasons to forget.

From George Gregan's meticulous preparation, through Stirling Mortlock, Rocky Elsom, James Horwill, Will Genia and David Pocock, through to the old-school ways of Nathan Sharpe and Ben Mowen, Moore has seen it all.

Next year's world cup could be his last for Australia. He has served his apprenticeship and wants to lead the Wallabies to greatness.

"I was thinking about that a fair bit yesterday, it creates some urgency in what you want to do and in Australian rugby we can't afford to be in any other position at the moment," Moore said.

"I've never been a fan of the terminology of building – that a team 'builds' towards something. When we go out there we're representing Australia –we're not a development side and we're not building, we're going out there to win and that's the way I want it moving forward."

The story New Wallabies captain Stephen Moore believes in the tough love approach first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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