Mortlock a kid in a candy store - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mortlock a kid in a candy store

Melissa Woods 04/02/2011 07:14:31 PM Comments (0)

Like a kid in a candy store, Melbourne Rebels captain Stirling Mortlock is ogling the opportunity to lead his new Super Rugby side out on to AAMI Park for the first time on Saturday night.

The Melbourne team will play their final trial match against the Crusaders, ahead of their Super Rugby season opener against the NSW Waratahs on February 18.

The former Wallabies skipper was officially named leader of the new outfit during the week, and the Crusaders game is his first as captain.

It is also only his second game back following back surgery last year.

"Excited is an understatement," Mortlock said.

"For us, playing against a side the calibre of the Crusaders and our first ever game at AAMI Park, everyone's extremely excited."

The final hit-out against historically the best side in Super history will give the Rebels a measure of their progress following three wins against weak opposition in under-strength Tonga and Fiji in earlier trials.

"The games have been very physical but those teams probably aren't as well-organised as the Crusaders will be," Mortlock said.

"Set piece time as well will be a lot more testing.

"We've prepared mentally and physically for a very tough challenge and I think we're going to get just that."

The Rebels squad has been cut to 24 for the match, while veteran halfback Sam Cordingley is missing with an on-going hip problem.

Former Wallabies utility Julian Huxley will play his first game for his new side, after switching from the Brumbies, following his recovery from osteitis pubis and is set for some game time at fullback.

Mortlock said it was a blow to have Cordingley out again, unable to build on his budding combination with English five-eighth Danny Cipriani.

"Having a guy like Sammy out, he's got such experience and he adds a lot of nous and direction and leadership in that area.

"It gives the opportunity for both Phibbsy (Patrick Phibbs) and Richard Kingi so for a negative there's always a positive."

The Crusaders were soundly beaten last weekend by the Queensland Reds, however five more All Blacks - fullback Israel Dagg, winger Zac Guilford, halfback Andy Ellis, and props Owen and Ben Franks - have joined the squad.

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