Mortlock not leaving town for a while

Australia and the Brumbies look like they will have the services of 30 year old Stirling Mortlock for at least another two to three seasons after he gave the strongest indication of his loyalty to Australian Rugby.

Many of his team-mates have left or have signed with clubs in foreign countries such a Larkham and Greagn who are both playing in France.

Mortlock, still Wallabies captain is undergoing three months of recovery from a shoulder reconstruction and will meet with ACT Rugby Union chief executive Andrew Fagan to discuss his plans.

While Mortlock, 30, still intends to test his market value overseas,

“My plan is to, hopefully, be a massive part of the new generation coming through,” Mortlock said yesterday to the Australian.

When he was asked whether he was aiming at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, he replied: “At this stage, it’s more about the next two or three years and being heavily involved in that. I believe I have a number of years left in the game at the top level and I want to commit to that, if everything goes well.”

That will surely be good news for Brumbies boss Fagan who will be desperate to keep the likes of Mortlock signed..

“We’d be keen for Stirling to continue in the leadership role that he has filled for the last couple of years, on and off the field,” Fagan said.

Of necessity, Mortlock will forfeit the Brumbies captaincy, at least for the start of the Super 14 campaign, with George Smith to fill the role.

Mortlock remains the leading candidate to head the Wallabies under new coach Robbie Deans this season, not withstanding Australia’s early exit from the World Cup.

Mortlock says that he has not spoken to Deans since the New Zealander was named last month as John Connolly’s successor but indirectly had received indications from ARU officials that the new coach regarded him highly.

“I’d love nothing more than to lead the national side for the next period of time but there are a lot of things I have to tick off before that,” he said.

“But in June (when Australia will play its first internationals under Deans), that would be my goal.”

The first meeting between captain and coach will take place in Sydney next month, when Deans brings the Crusaders across the Tasman for a pre-Super 14 trial match.

Mortlock is keen to hear what plans his new boss has for reigniting the Australian Test side.

“Rugby is cyclical,” Mortlock said. “At the moment, it’s all about having ascendancy up front and an accurate kicking game but, hopefully, a new cycle is on the way that will see rugby become a high-skill attacking game.

“Under Robbie, the Crusaders have become a quality outfit and highly skilled. That translates well to us, as does the fact that they have been quite innovative.

“I’m sure Robbie has his ideas about implementing change in the Australian side, according to the cattle at his disposal.”

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