Wallabies captain Stephen Moore.
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore. DAVE HUNT

Cheika defends captain Moore over lineout problems

UNION: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has jumped to the defence of his captain Stephen Moore saying the hooker isn't under pressure to hold his position because of poor lineout throwing.

But Cheika says Moore is in a "competitive battle” with back-up hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau ahead of tomorrow night's Rugby Championship clash with South Africa at Suncorp Stadium. 

In two Tests against the All Blacks, the New Zealanders won six lineouts on Moore's throws.

The nine other throwers from New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Polota-Nau between them lost just five lineouts from 80 attempts in this year's Rugby Championship.  

Polota-Nau had 10 clean throws from 12 attempts in the Tests against New Zealand.

The Wallabies have been starved of ball because of the poor results from lineouts, putting pressure on their defence.

"(He's) not under pressure. I don't like to think it's pressure. I like to think it's competition,” Cheika said of Moore.

"We shouldn't see competition as pressure because that's the game.”

But the coach said the 33-year-old knew he had to improve.

"Yes, I'd say Moore's in a competitive battle with Polota-Nau. And he knows it too,” Cheika said.

"I think that's a good thing, because he's feeling it and he says 'I want to play better' and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

"It doesn't mean I back Moorey in less, that's absolutely a normal situation for us to be in.”

New blindside flanker Dean Mumm, who will replace Scott Fardy tomorrow night in Brisbane against South Africa, said the entire lineout group was responsible for the poor results.

"I think it's really hard to judge a throw,” he said.

"If there's a lineout and we're not in the right place or the jump's short, then the throw gets judgment on it based on that.

"I think anything that's offered towards him is a judgment on us as a lineout as a whole.

"Steve's been throwing very well during the week, so we'll see how we go on the weekend.”

Centre Bernard Foley said the Wallabies weren't paying much heed to the criticisms of their skipper.

"It's really hard but people are entitled to their opinions and unfortunately those people get stronger voices when the side's not doing well,” he said.

"For us it hasn't deterred us or changed the way we see him or the rest of the team.

"We've got a really strong belief and an identity of this team, we're trying really hard to go out there and replicate it every time we get to wear that jersey.”

WALLABIES: Israel Folau; Reece Hodge, Bernard Foley, Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty; Will Genia, Quade Cooper; Dean Mumm, Michael Hooper, David Pocock; Kane Douglas, Adam Coleman; Scott Sio, Stephen Moore (c), Sekope Kepu. Replacements (one to be omitted): Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper, Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Lopeti Timani, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Tevita Kuridrani, Drew Mitchell.

SOUTH AFRICA: Johan Goosen; Bryan Habana, Jesse Kriel, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard; Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk; Warren Whiteley, Oupa Mohoje, Francois Louw; Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (c), Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements (one to be omitted): Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Franco Mostert, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jaco Kriel, Morne Steyn, Lionel Mapoe. 

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