Mortlock talks up the Rebels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mortlock talks up the Rebels

Melissa Woods 25/11/2010 06:24:34 PM Comments (0)

Former Wallabies skipper Stirling Mortlock is excited about the competition that has surfaced for starting positions within the fledgling Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby side.

As the team continue preparations for their entry into the expanded 15-side tournament next February, the Test centre, who is on the comeback after back surgery, says competition is fierce at the new outfit.

He cited the intriguing battle for the halfback spot where another veteran Sam Cordingley is up against youngsters Richard Kingi, who is training the house down, and Nick Phipps, currently on tour with the Wallabies although yet to make his Test debut.

"The squad (coach Rod Macqueen) has assembled is extremely strong," Mortlock said at a Weary Dunlop rugby lunch in Melbourne.

"Usually in the team you have eight to 10 guys, maybe even 12, who you'd say they're in those positions and there's a few up for grabs.

"That's certainly not the case in this team, everywhere you look from the front-row, back-row, centres, there are a lot of guys who are putting up their hand and it's a great environment to be part of."

Mortlock is hoping to force his way back into consideration for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year and said he should be back in full training in about a month.

"The back injury couldn't be better," the 31-year-old said.

"Every time the medical staff lift the intensity of what I'm doing its responded really well so I'm very, very happy."

Macqueen was also delighted with his side's progress, having just returned from a high-altitude training camp at Falls Creek.

"We're all very aware there's a long way to go but we're pretty happy with where we're at," Macqueen said.

The Rebels will get a true measure of their standing during their Super pre-season preparations, having lined up four trial matches, including three games against Tonga and Fiji, before squaring off against the Crusaders at AAMI Park on February 5.

They will face Tonga twice and Fiji once in January.

The Rebels will make their official competition debut against the Waratahs at AAMI Park on February 18.

Macqueen admitted the matches against the physical island sides were a risk.

"It's going to be the first time we play together as a team so we've got to be prepared to challenge ourselves," he said.

"I've got to say it is a risk for us because you can get injuries out of those sorts of games because they can be very tough, but at the same time if we want to be the best and test how high our standards are, that's the best way to do it."

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