JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

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.

Related Coverage

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

Follow Us on Facebook

HuffPost Australia

Featured advertisers