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Member of the Order of Australia (AM) - Australia Day 2012

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Mortlock talks up the Rebels

STIRLING Mortlock has declared he could be at his dynamic best when he starts with the Melbourne Rebels next year, after surgery to repair a seven-year-old injury. The former Wallabies captain had his Super 14 season ended early by a disc problem in his back, which he revealed had been dogging him for some time. His injury-plagued final season with the Brumbies raised questions about the 32-year-old's durability for the new team, but he said he would be "ready to go" when the Rebels start playing next February. Mortlock underwent the surgery this week. "I have had this injury for about seven years and have kept it in check," he said yesterday. "But lately it has been wearing away at me and the harder you try to make it better the worse it gets. "I'm very confident that some good will come out of a lot of pain this year. I am aiming to be as physically as strong and dynamic as I have ever been next year, and the most flexible.

"I'll be mentally and physically as fresh as I could be as well, with a long period of not playing rugby, too. It's a great starting point for joining the Rebels." The surgery and expected three-month recovery meant Mortlock could not be a part of the Wallabies' spring campaign this year. But he intends to spend that time getting in touch with as many of his Rebels teammates as possible to make a start on ensuring the new club is successful from the outset. "From next week I will start talking to a few of the guys and the coaching staff about everything we will be doing next year," Mortlock said. "For me, it is exciting that I get a good chance to do that and everyone that has signed has that same mindset . "The sooner we do that the better and everyone is keen to start brainstorming and putting together plans." Only one Rebels signing, prop Laurie Weeks, was included in the 30-man Wallabies squad named yesterday for the upcoming 10-Test program which concludes with a clash against the All Blacks at Etihad Stadium in September. Rebels coach Rod Macqueen has started a month-long European holiday content with the manner in which his squad was coming together. The Rebels now have 25 players after securing the services of 117kg Western Force prop Nic Henderson. He was once signed by Melbourne Storm before forging a rugby career with the Brumbies then the Force, and adds further strength to the Rebels' forward pack.

I am sure I will be ready to go.