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Veteran Rebels' work is done: Hill

Date

Stathi Paxinos

Rebels coach Damien Hill.

Rebels coach Damien Hill. Photo: Getty Images

MELBOURNE Rebels coach Damien Hill has declared the veterans now causing a log-jam as they head to the exits have completed the job required by a fledgling club and will leave it with a legacy to take it to a promising future.

Utility back Mark Gerrard, who has been one of the Rebels' best performers in the club's short existence, on Friday night announced he would join the list of veterans either retiring or playing elsewhere at the end of this season.

Fellow former Wallabies Stirling Mortlock, Julian Huxley and Al Campbell, plus former England breakaway Michael Lipman, have all announced their departures and it is expected more will follow.

''The fact that it was a new club, we chose to recruit players in a certain age group for their experience and leadership and we always knew that for a lot of them it was going to be their last contract and this is just a consequence of it,'' Hill said.

''I still think it was the right decision to make. The club's in a good place and is moving in the right direction and those senior players have had a lot to do with that.

''This place is continuing to build. I'm excited where it is headed but the player changes that we need to go through next year is part and parcel of a start-up club.''

He said the Rebels would have liked to have kept Gerrard but they could not compete with the money on offer in Japan, where he will play for a second-division club.

''He's been one of our best players,'' Hill said. ''We'll miss him … he's been a leader, he's covered full-back, wing and outside-centre for us and he's got one of the best kicking games in the whole competition. We fully respect his decision - we're lucky to have had him for the time we have.''

Gerrard has not ruled out returning to the Rebels, although he believes his rugby days will probably end in Japan.

The 29-year-old did not reveal his decision to leave until after the Rebels' 32-17 loss to the Reds on Friday night, leaving the limelight to remain on retiring skipper Mortlock's final game in Australia.

''I'm just happy to drift off into the wilderness,'' Gerrard said. ''I didn't want to make a fuss.''

Gerrard plans to play one match of the Rebels' upcoming two games in South Africa to finish the season and then return for the birth of his son in Sydney. The Rebels have announced a 26-man squad for games against the Lions in Johannesburg and the Stormers in Cape Town.

Star back James O'Connor is out after re-injuring his hamstring but Mortlock, who has been battling a calf problem, is included.

Lloyd Johansson will come in for O'Connor.

With 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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