Mortlock backs Waratahs-Reds blockbuster - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mortlock backs Waratahs-Reds blockbuster

By David Beniuk 01/03/2009 12:50:54 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock has no qualms about a return NSW-Queensland clash in the middle of the Test rugby season which could herald the return to Australia of Rocky Elsom.

Waratahs and Reds officials are working on a July fixture, which would fall between Australia's Tests against Italy and France and the Tri-Nations series, as the sequel to next Friday's interstate Super 14 clash in Sydney.

As derby fever grips the tournament, former Wallabies coach John Connolly has also called for a rugby state of origin series to plug gaps in the calendar.

National coach Robbie Deans is not a believer in cotton-wooling players, and Mortlock backed that stance.

"Footy players like to play games, that's certainly the case with everyone I've had to deal with," he told AAP.

"If you live life thinking that injuries and negativity's going to dominate you, then it probably will.

"We want to play footy, we want to play high quality matches and I think the more the merrier."

World class flanker Elsom at the weekend flagged his return to Australia in time for the Tri-Nations after a stint in Ireland, with speculation he could return to his home state of Queensland and turn out for the Reds in July.

"I don't think it's as much of an issue where he plays as long as we get him back in Australia, that's the really important thing," Mortlock said.

"Rocky was in exceptional form for us last time he played for the Wallabies and to get him back is a real positive."

Meanwhile, Mortlock said he and Adam Ashley-Cooper had struggled to form a cohesive centre pairing at the Brumbies this season following the Canberra side's first defeat, 25-16 to the Western Force on Saturday night.

The Brumbies forwards dominated the contest but their backs were impotent as the Matt Giteau-inspired Force ran in four tries including a hat-trick to returning former Test fullback Cameron Shepherd.

"I'm really looking forward to hopefully forming a cohesive attacking unit with Adam Ashley-Cooper and the rest of the backline and at the moment we're a little bit lacking in that department," Mortlock said.

"It's about getting into a game and having the ability to feed off each other in a game and we're probably not doing that at the moment.

"I think our whole attack in general, we've got to look at our attacking structures off multi-phase and I'm a piece in the puzzle in that.

"When we get our shape we look very good but probably we're not doing that enough."

Coach Andy Friend agreed, and said the pressure of Giteau's announcement he would return to the Brumbies next season had played on the mind of young five-eighth Christian Lealiifano.

"There was a lot of pressure for him this week with the announcement of Giteau and playing up against a bloke who's coming here," Friend said.

"He's got a lot of really positive attributes to his game. We need to work with him to make sure we're seeing more of that out there on the field."

Fullback Mark Gerrard suffered a quadriceps strain but is expected to recover for the Brumbies' clash with the Waratahs in two weeks.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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