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Tuesday
Jan242012

Rod Macqueen says Mortlock signing crucial

Melbourne Rebels coach Rod Macqueen says he expects three full years of service from prized recruit Stirling Mortlock.

After months of speculation, the former Wallabies captain confirmed he would play out his Super 15 career in Melbourne after signing a three-year deal.

Mortlock, 32, rejected a lucrative offer from French rugby to join the Rebels with a view to participating in the 2011 World Cup.

Macqueen said he would use Mortlock's on-field experience for as long as possible, but said his off-field value would be just as important.

"I would be happy to get two years on field and then he would have another role to play with us," Macqueen said.

"And we are going to have the value of his experience and expertise alongside younger players. It's an ideal scenario for us.

"He's a good player, he's got the skills we are after, and he has the type of culture we are after."

It's uncertain whether Mortlock would captain the team, and Macqueen has not decided on what position he would play.

"We don't want to pocket anyone in any position at this stage," he said. "Stirling has a couple of positions he can play and we will see how that pans out."

Macqueen is adamant the veteran adds significantly to the playing roster.

"We need to be competitive from day one. We can't pick a young side and build over three years, we need some older players," Macqueen said.

"Hopefully it could revitalise his career a little bit."

Macqueen has long admired Mortlock, having plucked him from club rugby at the age of 20 to tour with the Wallabies in 1997 and giving him his Test debut in 2000.

Mortlock, who lives in Sydney out of season and Canberra while playing for the Brumbies, will move to Melbourne later this year.

"We're willing to commit to him, and he is willing to commit to us. It's very pleasing," Macqueen said.

The Rebels remain in the hunt for South African brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, as well as former NRL star Mark Gasnier.

Rebels chief executive Brian Waldron is in talks with state and local governments about using Glenferrie Oval as a training base. The council-owned pool and gym, formerly used by Hawthorn, is receiving a $30 million upgrade and the oval, recently deemed too big for local Aussie rules teams, has been resurfaced.