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Mortlock to play first game of season

Date

Melissa Woods

Melbourne skipper Stirling Mortlock will make his first appearance of the Super Rugby season in some much-needed good news for the Rebels.

After losing Wallaby star James O'Connor to long-term injury and then five-eighth Danny Cipriani's shock decision to return to England, Mortlock's comeback match against the powerful Bulls on Friday night at AAMI Park couldn't be better timed.

Mortlock, who turns 35 next month, hasn't played due to ongoing calf problems but was able to get through an intensive running session and is set to lead his team again.

"He ran really well and he'll take part this week, all things being equal," said Rebels coach Damien Hill.

Mortlock is set to replace O'Connor, who suffered liver damage in their last match against NSW at No.12 while Mitch Inman will play 13 after his recovery from a broken hand.

"I'm not sure whether he will be starting or off the bench but he's ticked every box he needs to tick," Hill said.

The Bulls, who like the Rebels, are coming off the bye, have only lost two games this season to sit second on the overall ladder.

Hill said the experience of Mortlock will be vital.

"There's no substituting for 15 years' experience at this level," he said.

"He's one of the most competitive players that I've ever come across and he's our captain so it will be beneficial for him to rejoin our team."

Kurtley Beale is likely to start at five-eighth in the absence of Cipriani and O'Connor.

"We've got a number of options at 10," Hill said.

"Kurtley had a very big impact when he came on [against NSW] so that's what we're weighing up."

The Rebels' stocks in the flanker department are at an all-time low, with Tom Chamberlain still feeling the effects of concussion and Jarrod Saffy seeing a specialist over his back injury.

Veteran Michael Lipman, who also has ongoing back trouble, is likely to be available.

AAP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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