The RaboDirect Rebels announced today that Stirling Mortlock will captain the side in its debut year in Super Rugby, supported by vice captain Gareth Delve.
Addressing the media to confirm the club’s decision, Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Rod Macqueen, explained the approach. “We said from day one that it’s really important who are leaders are going to be. We put a great deal of thought into picking the right people and very early on we said were going to wait until closer to the start of the Super Rugby competition before we nominated anyone. Over the last few weeks we’ve been narrowing it down, discussing it with the leadership groups amongst the players, we discussed it with the board, and decided on Stirling to be the captain and Gareth to be the vice captain,” Macqueen announced.
Mortlock is one of the most experienced players at the Rebels, with 123 Super Rugby appearances under his belt, as well as 80 caps for the Wallabies. 29 of his international appearances were as captain, making him the fourth longest-serving captain in Australian international rugby.
Delve has made a big impression on his Rebels teammates and coaching staff since his arrival from Europe, with the Welsh international number 8 widely praised for his leadership abilities. The 28-year-old was captain of English Premiership side Gloucester from 2008 until his departure for the Rebels last year.
Mortlock explained how much he was relishing the challenge of leading the RaboDirect Rebels in their debut season of Super Rugby. “It’s a unique challenge, but one I’m looking forward to,” he said. “We’re very lucky in this team that we’ve got a lot of guys that have experience leading and it’s a matter of utilising that and making it a strength of ours.”
The new captain wasted no time setting his expectations for the season. “For us, as a group coming together, we want to be competitive,” Mortlock explained. “We want to do Melbourne proud. Off the pitch we want to get as much of a connection with the community as we can. There’s a bit more of a holistic approach to how we’re going about things and everybody’s extremely excited.”
For Delve, the vice captaincy is a particular honour as his move to the Rebels marks his first experience of Super Rugby. “It’s an incredible honour to come into a team with so many leaders that have accomplished so much in this competition,” he said. “The key for me is to have a good season and help Melbourne have a good season in our inaugural year. To have this responsibility as well is a massive vote of confidence and I will look to do as good a job as I can backing up Stirling and creating the culture we want amongst the boys.”
Mortlock’s first role as captain will be to lead his side out against the Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday, February 5, in the Rebels’ final trial match before the Super Rugby season kicks off. The Rebels face the Waratahs first up in that competition, on February 18 at AAMI Park.