Mortlock not guaranteed to keep Wallaby captaincy : Deans

Stirling Mortlock’s decision not to continue as Brumbies captain will not impact on his chances of holding on to the Wallabies captaincy but he will have to wait until after the Super 14 to find out if he retains the captaincy.

Mortlock surrendered the Brumbies’ chief leadership position this week after five years in the job, handing the mantle to Stephen Hoiles.

Thirty one year old Mortlock was hopeful his standing down at club level would not lead to him losing the Wallaby captaincy in June and said, “That’s a long, long way away but certainly that would be my intent [to continue captaining the Wallabies]”.

“I’m looking forward to stepping back from that off-field stuff that comes with being captain [of the Brumbies] but picking it up later on in the year with the Wallabies.”

Deans retained Mortlock as Wallaby captain in his first season but insisted Mortlock’s position with the Brumbies would have no connection to who won the Australian leadership position.

“We’ll contemplate every aspect of our program every year and the captaincy will certainly be involved in that,” Deans told The Canberra Times.

“There’s no guarantees, so to speak, but in terms of the decision that’s been made by the Brumbies pertaining to Stirling and him no longer staying on as captain there, that will have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on what we do or choose to do at the Wallabies.”

When Deans took over from John Connolly as Australian coach at the end of 2007 he considered both Mortlock and Waratahs forward Phil Waugh for the national captaincy.

After a series of meetings he decided to stick with Mortlock, who had led the team during the World Cup that year.

Deans described Mortlock as a “true leader” and predicted that he would still fill a senior role at the Brumbies even though he would not be captain.

“Stirling understands leadership and understands it has nothing to do with a title so to speak, or having an extra letter beside your name in the team sheet, it’s about what you do,” Deans said.

“He’ll continue to be a leader with the Brumbies and continue to be a very influential person within the club.

“I found him to be a great captain, I really enjoyed working with him at the Wallabies and I hope to work with him for many years to come in a leadership role.”

Deans also gave backing for Mortlock to succeed at inside-centre which is not his customary outside-centre role in the Super14 should Brumbies coach Andy Friend opt for that.

Deans switched Mortlock to inside-centre for part of last year’s European tour, sparking speculation that could have a flow-on effect at domestic level.

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