Rugby Championship: Moore paying no attention to critics

Stephen Moore insists he is unaware of any criticism of his form ahead of Australia's Rugby Championship clash with South Africa on Saturday.

The Wallabies are searching for their first win of the 2016 competition after back-to-back defeats to New Zealand saw the All Blacks retain the Bledisloe Cup.

A return to home soil should be of comfort to coach Michael Cheika and his men, but the record-breaking 42-8 defeat to New Zealand in the opening round of fixtures will still be fresh in their memories.

Cheika leapt to the defence of captain Moore's recent performances this week, but conceded the hooker faced competition for his place from Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Moore's throwing record has come in for particular criticism, but the 33-year-old claimed to be ignorant of the scrutiny when pushed for a response on Friday.

"If you start looking at that stuff you take your mind off what's important," he said. "There's a lot of belief in the team.

"I have got a lot of self-belief, myself, about my role in the team and we're just worrying about what we can control internally, so anything else is peripheral."

Wallabies assistant Stephen Larkham - Moore's coach at the Brumbies - feels the skipper remains a world-class player.

"He's still regarded as one of the best hookers in the world," Larkham said. 

"He had a super strong Super Rugby campaign, probably the best rugby I've ever seen him play.

"He came into the Test arena, I think everyone was a little bit disappointed coming out of the back of the England series [a 3-0 defeat] and we've probably all carried that over into Super Rugby in those final couple of rounds.

"He's been very motivated and doing a fantastic job as a leader within the team over the last five Test matches, but particularly the last two weeks."

South Africa opened their campaign with a home victory over Argentina before suffering a narrow defeat in the return match against the Pumas.

And skipper Adriaan Strauss, who has announced he will retire at the end of the season, knows the Springboks must be on their game in Brisbane. 

"It's always a massive game against Australia," said Strauss. "We are aware they are a good side, especially here in Brisbane where we don't have a good record. We need to make a step up on defence and we must be more ruthless and take our opportunities.

"We have not been able to build scoreboard pressure and that is something we have to improve on. Australia have game breakers who can run all over the park, so our work rate will have to be up there because it's physically tough against them."

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