Saturday’s clash between the CA Brumbies and the Otago Highlanders will mark the end of a journey for two outstanding servants to the Brumbies – George Smith and Stirling Mortlock. Smith will most likely be heading to an overseas club, whilst Mortlock will taking up a 3 year contract with the Melbourne Rebels. Despite a recent injury George Smith will take his place in the team, meanwhile a recurring back injury has denied Mortlock the proper farewell he deserves.
Both men have played in the blue, white and yellowof the Brumbies for over a decade, in an era where loyalty is largely unheard of. Both were products of NSW and came down to Canberra for a chance after being overlooked to represent NSW. This chance saw both players take the field over 100 times for the Brumbies, which puts them in esteemed company alongside the names of George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Jeremy Paul and Bill Young.
After making his Brumbies debut off the bench in 2000, Smith’s virtually indestructible body has allowed him to twice have streaks of playing over 50 games in a row for the Brumbies. He has won the Brett Robinson Medal for the Brumbies Best and Fairest 8 times and, incredibly, the last 7 years in a row.
The shoulder injury he sustained in 2010 has been the most serious of his career and has sidelined him for the past 6 weeks , however his team mates will be relieved that someone else might get a chance to win it this year.
George may not be the biggest talker on or off the field, but some of the actions ‘Jorge’ has displayed will ensure he will forever be in etched Brumbies folklore.
Stirling Mortlock debuted for the Brumbies in 1998 as a ‘naive youngster with a full head of hair’ and leaves the Brumbies ‘mature in many aspects, but bald..or receding’. His disregard for the preservation of his body has been the hallmark of his career with devestating runs and rib crunching tackles. Unfortunately, this style of play saw him cruelly ruled out of the Brumbies Super Rugby titles of 2001 and 2004 through injury.
‘Stirlo ‘will leave the Brumbies with numerous point scoring records, including surpassing Andrew Mehrtens’ record of 990 and was the first player to reach 1,000 points in Super Rugby. He can also include over 50 tries which puts him up amongst the Super Rugby leaders.
Thank you George and Stirling, you will be missed by Brumbies fans!