Stirling switches centres
18 May 2006
ACT captain Stirling Mortlock is favourite to replace the injured Matt Giteau at inside centre in next month’s Test series against England.
If Mortlock is switched from outside to inside, it will be his first start in the position for the Wallabies, the Sydney Morning Herland reports.
Mortlock, a specialist outside centre, has played on the wing and at fullback in Tests for Australia but has rarely been sighted at No 12.
However, Wallabies coach John Connolly is seriously considering moving the highly experienced midfielder for the first of two Tests against England in Sydney on June 11 after Giteau underwent minor knee surgery yesterday.
Giteau, who had been a certainty for the Test line-up, is expected to be unavailable for a month. Mortlock’s centre partner is likely to be either Ben Tune or Clyde Rathbone.
Connolly’s other options at inside centre are Gene Fairbanks or Sam Norton-Knight, and even Mat Rogers has been suggested at No 12 if Mortlock remains in his customary outside-centre position.
The final centre combination may be determined by how Norton-Knight performs at No 12 for the Waratahs in the Vodacom Super 14 semi-final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Connolly will announce a preliminary Wallabies training squad early next week that will convene for a three-day training camp in Sydney. The number of players involved is still uncertain and will depend on how NSW fare in Wellington.
It is understood that several high-profile Wallabies – both forwards and backs – will be overlooked for next week’s squad. The Australian selectors will announce the full Wallabies training squad only on May 29.