Wallabies teammate says sorry as Moore bows out beaten
RUGBY UNION: Australia's newest Wallaby Taniela Tupou has apologised for the team not giving retiring stalwart Stephen Moore the farewell he deserved in the Test thrashing at Murrayfield.
Hooker Moore's illustrious career is over after 129 Tests and 13 seasons in gold and the sombre dressing room scenes were ill-fitting but necessary after a 53-24 lesson from Scotland.
Tupou, 21, had shed tears during the singing of the pre-Test national anthem so he was acutely aware of the meaning to a first Test and one's last.
"Obviously it was not the result we wanted and the boys are down because we wanted to get a win for the country and especially for Stephen Moore in his last game,” Tupou said.
"I was crying when singing the anthem because I was thinking of my family in Tonga and everyone who had helped me get to this point.
"I'm sorry I didn't get the win for them.”
Moore's final 59 minutes before retirement were a mixed bag.
He nailed his first long lineout throw to Michael Hooper, marshalled a strong scrum when it was at full strength and ploughed into everything but he missed a tackle in a try build-up, had a pass intercepted and made one wonky lineout throw in a team performance full of ragged elements.
Moore was given a standing ovation by the knowledgeable Scottish crowd when he walked off and they, like coach Michael Cheika, understood that a 13-season career will not be defined by a flat finish.
"I don't think a player's career is summarised by one match, any match or a moment in the game,” Cheika said.
"His attitude and character will be imprinted on this squad going forward.
"He is a genuine authentic Wallaby, he loves Australia and it hurts him when the team is not seen in the right light and he will do anything for the team to be at the top.”
The send-off of Sekope Kepu meant Tupou was used for much longer on debut (27 minutes) than planned and his first scrum was a jolt when the seven-man gold pack was buckled.
Tupou had spent match morning trying to learn all the words to Advance Australia Fair so he could accompany the pre-Test anthem singing.
"When Keps got red-carded and Cheika said 'Nela you're on' I can't explain the feeling when I ran on,” Tupou said.
"This is something I'll remember forever. It's so special and I'm so grateful for this opportunity from Australia because I came on tour not expecting anything.
"I had to brush up a little on the anthem. It was funny. I didn't know my roommate (Tetera Faulkner) was awake but he was recording me singing (in practice).”
Tupou said Cheika was restrained in the dressing room with no Test next weekend just the start of the off-season.
"Instead of being sad about this game, he said to think of all the good stuff that the team has done throughout the year and we will work hard and come back stronger next year,” Tupou said.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend lost six times to the Wallabies over a decade as a player so there was extra sweetness to the comprehensive performance a week after losing to the All Blacks by just five points.
"I was certainly never that close to beating Australia as player. The (Kepu) send-off was a big advantage to us because when an open game became less structured it really suited us because 14 (Australian) bodies were going to be more tired than our 15,” Townsend said.