Mortlock: Body will tell
Stirling Mortlock (Gallo)
Melbourne - Melbourne Rebels skipper Stirling Mortlock is waiting to be told whether this Super Rugby season will be his last.
But the final declaration won't come from the coach or club CEO, it will come from his own body.
The 34-year-old is considering playing on to 2013, but will wait until this season gets fully underway before making a decision.
Still full of boyish enthusiasm, Mortlock, who was
awarded an AM in the Australia Day honours, said he wouldn't retire
because he was tired of the game.
He has played 138 Super Rugby matches since 1998, when he started with the Brumbies.
"In my case I do really love doing what I do so it's more
about the body," said the former Wallabies centre, who has recovered
from a serious back injury.
"I'll play the trials, get into the tournament and then hopefully the body will be talking to me by then; it will make sense."
Mortlock has the support of Rebels coach Damien Hill if he wants to play out the final year of his contract.
"Stirling's still getting personal bests in the gym so he's continuing to improve," Hill said.
"As long as that happens he's definitely a possibility to continue."
Mortlock suffered some knee soreness earlier this month
but said he was a certainty to play in next Friday's opening trial
against the Chiefs in Geelong.
He planned to limit his minutes during their three trials and keep his training workload ramped up.
"My body responds better when I put it under some strain and a bit of load so I've got to do the training and the work.
"I found last year the more games I played the better I went."
The Rebels, who finished a distant last in their
inaugural Super Rugby season, are eager to see how their training
transfers on to the paddock against some opposition.
Mortlock said tensions were running high.
"We're in full battle mode I suppose," he said.
"The guys are a little bit on edge at the moment.
"We've been working extremely hard but from now everything goes up a couple of levels."