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Stirling career comes to end

Date

David Polkinghorne

Brumbies great Stirling Mortlock, now a Melbourne Rebel, announced his retirement yesterday.

Brumbies great Stirling Mortlock, now a Melbourne Rebel, announced his retirement yesterday. Photo: Andrew Meares

As Stirling Mortlock dived over the try line in the Melbourne Rebels' upset victory over the Canterbury Crusaders last month, he knew his days were numbered.

The trademark swan dive was still there but injuries had eroded the 35-year-old's once blistering pace.

Yesterday the former ACT Brumbies and Wallabies centre announced the current Super Rugby season would be his last.

''In the internal review we had all the boys were laughing at the fact that I was essentially on a treadmill [when scoring that try against the Crusaders], but I still managed to get across the line and do a nice swan dive,'' Mortlock told The Canberra Times yesterday.

''It was the moment that took me over, it was a big win for the club playing against a full-strength quality outfit in the Crusaders.''

If injury permits, his last game will be away against the Cape Town Stormers on July 14, ending a 15-year Super Rugby career - 13 of those with the Brumbies.

He has 143 Super Rugby caps, has played 80 Tests for Australia, captained the Wallabies, Brumbies and Rebels, and was part of the Brumbies' two Super Rugby titles in 2001 and 2004 - although he missed both finals through injury.

Mortlock is the Wallabies' fourth highest point scorer of all time, and second on the Super Rugby point scoring table behind Dan Carter.

Two figures were central in keeping him going through a swag of crippling injuries - his wife Caroline, who has been with him through his entire rugby career, and physiotherapist Mal Brown, who has been with him even longer.

''Probably a few times you do [doubt you can recover from injury]. The most recent one would have been my back operation and injury, as far as my experience goes, the most debilitating injury that I suffered,'' Mortlock said. ''Don't get me wrong there's a lot of other ones that have been tough … but that one seemed to affect my whole entire body as well as my back. I almost had to start from scratch again.''

Rebels winger Mark Gerrard has known Mortlock in both his guises - scintillating points machine with the Brumbies and experienced leader intent on building a new club in Melbourne. Gerrard said Mortlock had taken his leadership to the next level at the Rebels. At the Brumbies he had players like Stephen Larkham, George Gregan and Owen Finegan to share the leadership duties, but with the Rebels he was instrumental in building the culture of the fledgling club.

''I'd say one of your top two to three 13s that have ever played the game. You probably look at [Ireland's Brian] O'Driscoll, [All Blacks Tana] Umaga, I'd probably say Stirlo's up there as well,'' Gerrard said.

''It's not an easy feat to come back from a back surgery as well. Having to do that at his age, I think that's a testament to his character and probably his attitude and how he wanted to approach rugby.

''In his prime at the Brumbies, probably one of the best 13s you'll ever see.''

Two Mortlock moments stick in Gerrard's mind - a goal kick from the sideline in Wellington and that try against the All Blacks in the semi-final of the 2003 World Cup.

Mortlock intercepted the ball inside the Wallabies' 22 and raced the length of the field to score under the posts, helping send the Kiwis home in the process.

For Laurie Fisher, who coached him at the Brumbies from 2005-2008, it was a match-winning try after the siren against the Pretoria Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in 2006.

But what Fisher will remember the most was his ''infectious enthusiasm''.

''He always turned up, whether it was in the gym or conditioning work or skills work or playing, he had this infectious enthusiasm and just raised the level for everybody,'' the current Brumbies forwards coach said. ''He was a leader by example. That was when he was at his best, when he was playing inspirationally. That's what we looked for him leadership wise.''

Mortlock will continue with the Rebels in a coaching and ambassador role.

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
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Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
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