Stirling Mortlock has signed for new Super rugby team, the Melbourne Rebels. The news is surprising because Morlock was expected to head to Japan after this year. Having lost the Wallabies and Brumbies captaincy, and his body struggling to hold up to the Super 14 pace, an end to his illustrious ruby career in Australia seemed imminent. The lower impact and lighter playing schedule and the chance to set himself up financially before retiring from playing made Japan seem like a logical choice.
It will be the third time Morlock has linked up with Melbourne Rebels coach Rob Macqueen. Macqueen selected him for his debut for the Brumbies and the Wallabies, so it seems fitting that he would also select him for his rugby curtain call.
Despite the clear risks of signing such an injury prone player at the end of his career, it seems like a good move for the new Super team. He is a marquis signing as far as leadership goes, whether that be on or off the field. Macqueen has said that he can switch to a backroom role at any point during his new three year contract. He becomes the tenth player to sign for the new franchise, and clearly legitimises them in the bid to attract high profile players. Other signings include former England no. 10 Danny Cipriani and rising Reds prop Laurie Weeks.
Mortlock has indicated that a motivator to stay in Australia was the chance to extend his 80 Wallabies test caps and fight for a place in the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The big centre is currently the only player to score over a thousand super points, although Dan Carter is hot on his tail.