Mortlock in talks with Japanese club

Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock has come under fire for flying 8000km to hold secret talks with a Japanese club while Australia have been struggling in the TriNations.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Mortlock flew to Fukuoka to meet with officials from the Kyuden Voltex club without informing the Australian Rugby Union or Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

The development came as the Wallabies were suffering a losing streak of four losses which ended when the Wallabies outplayed the Springboks in Brisbane.

Mortlock is currently injured and cannot play for the Wallabies but is due back in the Wallabies camp next week and wants to lead the national side on the end-of-season Grand Slam Tour.

Both ARU high performance unit general manager David Nucifora and Deans were unaware of Mortlock’s Japanese trip.

“We’re not aware if Stirling has gone to Japan as you say, but when players are out of the squad we don’t require them to give a rundown on their movements,” Nucifora told the Daily Telegraph.

“Stirling was not in Perth last week either because he wasn’t needed, but he has been working on his rehabilitation.”

The 2007 World Cup captain was offered a $3.75million deal over three seasons from a Japanese club in January last year before re-signing with the ARU until the end of 2010.

There has been talk of Japan joining an expanded Super 15  tournament in the future but the first expansion will only come in 2011. Right now with Australian leading the race to be awarded the extra team in the Super 15.

Retired Wallabies firebrand Sam Scott-Young has blamed the ARU for forcing players into becoming “disloyal”. “It’s just typical rugby, that’s the way it is. I played in an amateur era and we were there to show loyalty,” Scott-Young said.

“It’s a bit of a question mark, but the rugby union has virtually forced these guys to be disloyal. As a Queenslander, I would have rather licked a toilet bowl than go and join NSW.”

“But it’s all changed now in the professional era. It’s not the best of timing, that’s for sure, but then again I guess he’s probably got a time frame on making a decision about what he’s going to do for his future, so he’s probably had to make that call.”

“But you can see how it would look bad for him.”

The club Mortlock is having talks with is based in Kashii in Fukuoka and competes in the Japanese Top League.

Ironically, Mortlock told a rival publication last Tuesday that he intended to be “more visual” in the Wallabies camp next week and hoped his presence would help lift the team.

“I will touch base with the boys and (be) a little more visual in camp,” Mortlock said.

“It will be good timing for me because I will have started running and getting a bit more mobile.”

Deans admitted that Mortlock was not required in Brisbane this week, but there is no escaping the poor timing of a potential move from the national captain.

“Stirling was not required in Brisbane this week,” Deans said. “He’s not currently part of the squad because of his injury.”

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