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Mortlock set for first Rebels Super Rugby start

Rebels captain Stirling Morlock

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Article Published: Monday 30 April 2012|

Melbourne Rebels captain Stirling Morlock will play his first Super Rugby match of the season later this week against former Champions the Bulls.

The news of Mortlock's fitness comes as a big lift for the Rebels as they have recently lost Wallaby star James O'Connor for six weeks and Danny Cipriani will return to England early.

Mortlock who turns 35 next month has not been able to play Super Rugby this season due to ongoing calf problems but has now been able to get through an intensive running session and is set to lead the Rebels again.

"He ran really well and he'll take part this week, all things being equal," Rebels coach Damien Hill told AAP.

Mortlock looks set to replace James O'Connor who suffered from liver damage in their last match against the Waratahs which was before the bye.

As Mortlock is likely to slot in at 12 Mitch Inman will play 13 as he has recovered quicker than expected from a broken hand.

"I'm not sure whether he will be starting or off the bench but he's ticked every box he needs to tick," Hill said of Inman.

Former Super Rugby champions the Bulls have lost two matches so far this season but have yet to play a game outside of South Africa and not used their bye in Round 10 to travel to Melbourne and will only leave South Africa late on Monday.

Coach Hill says that with the Rebels playing against a team like the Bulls Mortlock's experience will be vital.

"There's no substituting for 15 years' experience at this level," he said.

"He's one of the most competitive players that I've ever come across and he's our captain so it will be beneficial for him to rejoin our team."

As Cipriani is no longer a Rebel Kurtley Beale is likely to be moved to first five-eighth.

"We've got a number of options at 10," Hill said.

"Kurtley had a very big impact when he came on (against NSW) so that's what we're weighing up."

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