Had it not been for former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, Test centurion Stephen Moore might have been lining up for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Irish green rather than Australian gold.
The Wallabies’ skipper has done his best to play down his milestone 100th match, adamant the focus must be on beating Scotland on Sunday (Monday 0200 AEDT) to reach the semi-finals.
Cracking a century of Tests is an honour he will share with veteran centre Matt Giteau, as the pair become only the seventh and eighth Wallabies to reach the mark when they run out at Twickenham.
But it all could’ve been so different for Moore, who was born in Kamis in Saudi Arabia to Irish parents, who moved back home to raise their son.
He lived in Galway for five years until the family emigrated to Queensland.
Moore quickly embraced the Australian sporting culture, cheering on the Wallabies as well as Steve Waugh and the Australian cricket team.
But the family roots held firm and, as a budding athlete, he grew up watching VHS tapes of the Irish rugby team, often featuring his idol, champion hooker Keith Wood – who had a game and a bald head similar to Moore’s now.
Humble to a fault, Moore talks down the approaches from Irish rugby who came knocking on his door when he was a talented 19-year-old making his name in Brisbane – but not the role then-Wallabies coach Jones had in setting him on the path to captaining his country at the World Cup.
“At the time, it was really a bit of a blur to me,” Moore told AAP.
“There were a few of those conversations very early in my career – but I was brought up as an Australian and my dream was to play for the Wallabies.
“Eddie Jones was coaching the Wallabies and he was a great mentor through that time.
“He gave me great advice and support and really put some faith in me.
“He was the one who gave me my first opportunity to play for Australia (against Samoa in 2005). You certainly never forget those things.
“I’m very proud of my Irish background, but I was certainly brought up as an Australian and I’m very proud to get the opportunity to play for Australia.”
It’s an act he has done on 99 occasions already, with No.100 to come on Sunday at Twickenham when he lines up against Scotland.
What will make it extra special will be that he brings it up alongside Giteau, his former Brumbies teammate, who described Moore as the “backbone of Australian rugby for the past decade”.
It’s an accolade which embarrasses Moore.
“That’s always nice to hear but I’m not really feeling overly reflective at the moment,” he said.
“We’ve got so much ahead of us that we need to do.
“Whether it’s my 100th or 45th, it’s very much the same preparation.”