Mortlock: I need to do more
Stirling Mortlock (Gallo)
Melbourne - Former Brumbies captain Stirling Mortlock says he needs to rediscover his ''top-end explosiveness'' to return to his best form.
But after his injury-riddled farewell to Canberra last year, Mortlock is itching to line up against the Brumbies for the first time on Friday.
Mortlock will attempt to lead a Melbourne Rebels revival in their round two Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies at AAMI Park. The veteran centre says it will be a ''weird and unique'' experience playing against the club that launched his career 13 years ago.
Since he has left, Adam Ashley-Cooper has stepped into the Brumbies' No.13 jumper.
Now Mortlock wants to prove he is no longer troubled by the back injury which prematurely ended his time in Canberra.
''I was really disappointed that I didn't get an opportunity to play some quality football before I left [the Brumbies],'' Mortlock said. ''I tried as hard as I could and in the end it forced my hand and I had to get an operation [on my back].
''It's not a regret, I don't look at it is the wrong move. I'm happy with the work I have done now, but I still feel like I need to do more. What I need to work hard on is my top-end explosiveness and the ability to repeat that. When you have an injury as debilitating as mine was, you lose those functions you consider normal … but I have got full confidence in it now.''
The Waratahs thrashed the competition newcomers 43-0 but the Brumbies are preparing to face stiffer opponents at AAMI Park, with Mortlock keen to get the Rebels' first victory against his former club.
With Mortlock missing the Wallabies' Test season last year, Ashley-Cooper made the No.13 jersey his own. Wallabies great Larkham, who is is the Brumbies' attack coach, played with both Mortlock and Ashley-Cooper and is expecting a blockbuster battle between the pair.
''There were no instances [last weekend] where 'Coopy' got the ball in his hands and he had space to move, he had to work for everything [against the Chiefs],'' Larkham said. ''We want someone like Coopy to get his hands on the ball as much as possible because he's such a threatening attacker.
''… [Mortlock] was off the pace of the game a little bit, but he will certainly improve. Mentally he's one of the better players in Australian rugby at the moment. ''Coopy has more speed and is a bit more dynamic than 'Stirlo' at the moment, but they're similarly matched across the park.''