Injury denies Mortlock Canberra farewell
May 7, 2010
Stirling Mortlock will leave the Brumbies after 13 years to join the Melbourne Rebels © Getty Images
Brumbies veteran Stirling Mortlock has been tragically robbed of a playing farewell in front of his home fans on Saturday but fellow ACT legend George Smith has recovered in time to appear at Canberra Stadium for the last time.
The Brumbies can mathematically still come second in this year's Super 14, an achievement that would bring a home semi-final, but most likely is that Saturday's visit of the Highlanders will be the Brumbies' final home match for Mortlock and Smith, who are moving to the Melbourne Rebels and European rugby respectively.
While 12-year Brumby Smith will at least get to sign off in his famous No.7 jersey, Mortlock has been ruled out of the match with a back complaint that has limited his playing time this season. He had been given up until the last minute to prove his fitness but wasn't able to take part in Friday's training.
Mortlock, who may well feature at Canberra Stadium in the future on the opposing Rebels team, said he was disappointed to miss out but that he would be better served recovering for next week's final round against the Crusaders in Christchurch and the play-offs should the team get there.
"While it's not so good for me, I'm very happy for George and the team's preparations have been very good," Mortlock said. "I was only bracketed on the bench so I don't think it disrupts the team too much at all.
"I pulled up a bit sore from the session yesterday. I was really happy with the way my back went during the session yesterday but I always knew it was how I pulled up today. Unfortunately it's a little too sore and we're better off making the call early and preparing for next week's game."
Smith said he won't allow sentimentality to override the on-field importance of Saturday's crucial match, which could enhance or end the Brumbies' play-off hopes.
"I think I will be celebrating the fact that I have been here for so long and I do get the chance to play on the weekend," he the Daily Telegraph. "It doesn't just come down to this game, I've had many enjoyable nights out at Canberra Stadium. It comes up to a celebration of many things.
"I think the times that you don't see out there on the football field that you are around each other's company are the best times and the most treasured times. In terms of leaving a legacy, I'll let other people determine that.
"We have been unlucky with injuries throughout the year but the boys have put us in a position to try and and make the finals. But we have to be worried about the Highlanders this weekend. They definitely dominated the Waratahs last weekend."
The Brumbies have announced they will make a special presentation to Mortlock and Smith after the match.
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