Wallabies skipper Moore plans international exit in 2017

BY AP • July 27, 2017

NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) Stephen Moore has announced he'll quit international rugby at the end of the year and has already handed the Wallabies captaincy over to Michael Hooper.

The 34-year-old Australia hooker had a contract through to the 2019 World Cup in Japan but has decided to move into retirement in steps, starting with an end to international rugby after the Wallabies' tour to Europe in November and then finishing his Super Rugby career with the Queensland Reds in 2018.

With 120 internationals to his credit, Moore is 10th on the list of most capped players in the game.

''There's still plenty of footy to go this year but I know the Wallabies will be left in very strong hands if we continue to work hard and stay grounded,'' Moore said in a statement released by the Australian Rugby Union on Thursday. ''Succession is a really important part of the leadership of any team and we've been working to that end for a number of years and having those discussions for some time.''

Moore, a veteran of three World Cup campaigns, was dropped to the reserves bench for two of Australia's three tests in June, with Tatafu Polota-Nau starting, but he remained leader of the Wallabies squad.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Moore had an important role in helping develop an inexperienced squad for the remainder of the season.

''This isn't a farewell right now - he's fully committed to getting the gold jersey back to the top this year,'' Cheika said. ''His contribution to this current team cannot be understated. What he's achieved on the field is no mean feat but it's his work off the field in his role as captain of Australia that has really impressed me.

''We now have to make sure we send him off in the best way possible this year.''

Australian rugby has been in decline since losing the 2015 World Cup final to New Zealand, and Cheika is making moves to regenerate the national squad after a disappointing June series.

Australia's next major challenge is a Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup test against the world champion All Blacks on Aug. 19.

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