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Mortlock calling it quits

Melbourne, Australia – Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock says he will retire from all rugby at the end of the current Super 15 rugby season, ending a career of 80 Test matches and more than 140 games of Super rugby.

The 35-year-old center will play his last game on Australian soil when he leads the Melbourne Rebels against the reigning Super 15 champions the Queensland Reds at Melbourne's AAMI Park on June 29. His last match will be played in South Africa when the Rebels meet the Stormers at Cape Town on July 14.

Stirling Mortlock. Credit: Lee Warren

Mortlock's last season has been a battle with injuries, typifying his career. A calf injury prevented him from making his first appearance until the 12th round of the season.

Mortlock scored 489 points in Tests and is the only Australian to have scored 1,000 points in Super rugby. He reached 50 and 100 Test points quicker than any Australian player.

“There's no secret I still love what I do and still love playing. It's more about my body,” Mortlock said.

“Being on the sidelines for nine of 10 weeks this season was extremely frustrating and tough. My body is back in the shape I want it to be but I think it is the right time (to retire).”

Mortlock first played for Australia in 1997 when Rugby World Cup-winning coach Rod MacQueen plucked him out of club rugby at the age of 20. He made his Test debut three years later against Argentina, scoring 20 points or more in four consecutive Tests in his first Test season.

He is remembered for his 80 metre intercept try in the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup which clinched Australia's win over New Zealand and sent them into the final, won by England.

He played more than 100 matches for the ACT Brumbies and was named Super rugby's Player of the Year in 2002. Mortlock was made a Member of the Order of Australia in this year's Australia Day honours list. – Sapa-AP

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