9 Oct 2009

Mortlock dropped as Wallabies skipper

5:58 pm on 9 October 2009

Stirling Mortlock has been dropped as captain of the Australia rugby side and replaced by flanker Rocky Elsom.

Mortlock remains in the squad though for the final Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Tokyo and the Wallabies' season-ending Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland.

Speculation surrounding Mortlock's captaincy has grown since the 80-Test veteran sustained a serious knee injury during the Tri-Nations.

George Smith stood in as skipper during Mortlock's absence.

During his injury lay-off Mortlock travelled to Japan for talks with a local club and says he'll decide on his long-term future before the end of the year.

Elsom signed a two-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union in June after returning from a season in Ireland, where he was lauded for his key role in Leinster's road to the Heineken Cup.

The 26-year-old Elsom is seen as the front runner to lead the Wallabies at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Australia's Grand Slam tour, including matches against England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales kicks off in November after their final Bledisloe Cup test against the All Blacks in Tokyo on October 31st.