Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mortlock injury worry ahead of Autumn series

Stirling Mortlock won't be travelling with the rest of the Quantas Wallabies tour party when they head to Tokyo for the Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand after damaging his calf muscle.

It is the latest injury blow for the 80 cap Test veteran, who last week saw the Australian captaincy move to back row man Rocky Elsom after a two year stint in the job.

The early signs are that he will miss the first two Tests on the tour, against the All Blacks on 31 October and England on 7 November, but that he should be fit to play in the final three legs of the Aussies Grand Slam tour, which concludes against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on 28 November.

“It's bad enough, a decent size tear in the muscle. I think realistically we're targeting being 100 per cent right by that week leading into the Ireland match,” Mortlock told reporters in Sydney.

"From my perspective it is obviously extremely disappointing. The best way forward for me is getting treatment here in Australia."

Mortlock had just battled back to full fitness after missing four Tri Nations matches with a knee injury. On top of that, he also lost the captaincy to Elsom.

But the Brumbies centre has pledged his full support to Elsom and is hoping to have a happier time at the Millennium Stadium than he enjoyed on his last visit.

In November, 2008, he was involved in a head on clash with Wales’ Jamie Roberts and got knocked out cold after only a few minutes. Roberts stayed on long enough to set-up a try that enabled Wales to win the game 21-18, before heading to hospital to discover he had fractured his skull.

“It is a slight change and my role within the team will change somewhat, but I’ll be offering as much as I can to the group. Rocky knows I am there for him in whatever capacity he needs me in,” said Mortlock.

“I understand the logic and reasoning behind naming a new captain and building from here up to the 2011 World Cup. Rocky is a natural leader and I think it is the right way forward for us.

“This is a very important tour for us. You only have to go to training to see the intensity and the amount of effort everyone is putting in to try to turn things around.”


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