Stirling, Japan is your best bet

Stirling, Japan is your best bet
A shadow of his former self

A shadow of his former self

You don’t like saying it of a champion but Father Time has finally caught up with Stirling Mortlock.

Like George Gregan, who stayed too long at this level, he just ain’t the player he used to be.

He’s lost some pace, is starting to fall off tackles and doesn’t have that dynamism any more. When was the last time he made a decent bust?

I know he’s been injured a bit lately but that’s part of the problem, he’s routinely injured. Going on 33, I think it’s time for him to look for a big payout and gentler pastures.

Word is that he’s a marquee signing for the Melbourne Rebels and they’re just waiting for the ARU to approve his top-up, albeit at an alleged lesser rate than before.

That’s all well and good as a leader, role model and mentor but from a form perspective unless there’s a significant improvement I can’t actually see him playing international rugby again.

Not that there’s a whole list of candidates, apart from Diggers, breaking down the door to grab hold of that Wallaby outside centre position.

I also can’t see him lasting a full season of Super 14 either. I personally think it’s a bridge too far. When was the last time he went a full season without injury? Exactly.

He made his debut for the Brumbies 12 years ago against the Waratahs. Yep, 12 long years ago. He’s scored more than 1000 points in the Super 14 and has 80 test caps to his name, many as captain.

Morty has provided excellent service to Australian rugby and is one of the most respected players currently in the game.

It wasn’t that long ago that, along with Brian O’Driscoll, he was regarded as the world’s premier centre.

Being the Force equivalent of Nathan Sharpe or Brendan Cannon is not a bad idea for a new franchise, except that these guys were competitive when they were signed and in Sharpe’s case still is.

If you’re looking for a Carlos Spencer type who can do this and a bit of coaching as well, yeah OK, but you’ve got to accept the reality as well.

And that is he’s past his best on the field and won’t be able to do what he used to.

I don’t think staying in the Super 14 is the right move for him. Sure, trying to recreate something with Rod McQueen is a little nostalgic but it’s never the same second time round.

Why sully your reputation at this level when you can toddle off for a small fortune and play with some of your mates in Japan?

Japanese rugby is Division 2 quality and if Bernie, George, Greysie, Madness, Radike and the like are cruising at this level then you’ll surely be a star.

I’d imagine that he’d be particularly saleable in that market: ‘Konichiwa. Used world class outside centre, once was a warrior but now only a shadow of his former self. Will perform at a level commensurate with your competition. Good leadership skills and team man. Domo arigato’.

The other thing is that it’s unlikely the Rebels will be competitive in their first season so why would you want to struggle your arse off at 33 on a crusade that’ll take years to achieve a result?

I mean the flighty, lightweight Danny Cipriani? Adam Byrnes and Richard Kingi? Gareth who? Great start so far….. Any sign of current Wallaby top liners?

It’ll be like the Force and very hard to get off Struggle Street for some years to come.

I’d say Stirling would have a maximum of three years or so left in him at the Japanese level. That’s a pretty good pay day in anyone’s terms.

It’s user friendly and if injury prone players like Daniel Heenan can survive in it, it can’t be too physical.

Stirlo, say it ain’t so? I don’t want to see you as that shadow……


Roscoe Tims (aka @LanceFree): A nasty, opinionated little man whose views are indeed narrow with a capital 'N'. Favourite Sport: mungo bashing. Does he ever have anything positive to say?

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