Mortlock makes Japanese trip
Australia captain leaves squad after injury
Last Updated: 07/09/09 12:37pm
Mortlock: Not with squad
It is suspected that Australia captain Stirling Mortlock has opted for a trip to Japan rather than staying with his squad for the remainder of the Tri-Nations.
The veteran centre suffered torn knee cartilage and has been ruled out of the tournament, meaning he is no longer needed by his national side.
When Australia's Sunday Telegraph tried to contact the 32-year-old, they were greeted by a Japanese answering message.
Mortlock has expressed his desire to be an integral part of the end-of-season tour to the British Isles, but it has been suggested those plans may now come under threat after he left the squad.
Although Mortlock has come under fire for his trip, ARU high performance unit general manager David Nucifora insisted that he had not broken squad protocol by travelling to Japan.
"We're not aware if Stirling has gone to Japan as you say, but when players are out of the squad we don't require them to give a rundown on their movements," Nucifora told the Sunday Telegraph.
"Stirling was not in Perth last week either because he wasn't needed, but he has been working on his rehabilitation."
The reason for Mortlock's Japanese excursion is rumoured to be a meeting with the Kyuden Voltex club to discuss a possible move to the Top League.
Despite it seemingly being an unsuitable time to open negotiations, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans also stated that Mortlock was under no obligation to stay with his team.
He added: "Stirling was not required in Brisbane this week. He's not currently part of the squad because of his injury."