“Whenever I am watching the Rebels play and they’re on the charge, if Mitch Inman is involved I end up standing up and yelling Go Inners! There is something about him which has always evoked a really loud and authoritative reaction from me. It’s a feeling like cheering Black Caviar home, where I am up out of my chair yelling for the big thing.
“Mitch is a mean specimen physically, and from my perspective he has always stood out as a bloke who was extremely diligent and worked hard on his preparation, so I think he would love that comparison to a thoroughbred!”
So says Stirling Mortlock, foundation Melbourne Rebels Captain, as his former teammate Mitch Inman prepares to make his final appearance for the Club this weekend and notch his 100th Super Rugby cap in the process.
While the duo were only teammates for one year, Mortlock’s last year of professional Rugby in 2012, speaking with Mortlock it is very clear the high regard in which he holds Inman; and I have witnessed him out of his seat bellowing encouragement for ‘Inners’ firsthand, at Allianz Stadium last year as the Rebels won their first ever game in Sydney against the Waratahs.
“Mitch has been enormous for the Rebels,” Mortlock continues. “He and Laurie Weeks are the only players left there from my time at the Club. Laurie has been huge for Melbourne, has had fantastic longevity and is the only remaining foundation player, but Mitch has been just as critical in passing on the foundations of what the Rebels represents.
“Mitch’s personality, the way he is always passing on knowledge and is always chatting on and off the field; he has certainly been a real keeper of the standards and values that we tried to establish in the early days of the Rebels. He is a club stalwart, and an absolute legend.”
Inman moved to Melbourne following two seasons at the Western Force, and made an instant impression on Mortlock.
“When Mitch first arrived at the Rebels, I immediately noticed the sheer size of the guy; he’s a big unit, which I loved in a centres partner! He was always good on the chat, and big on fronting up, looking you in the eye, shaking your hand and talking about everything that was going on.
“Once I started seeing him on the training paddock I couldn’t help but love his enthusiasm, his drive and his desire to get better. He is a true professional in every sense of the word, and you don’t have to do much more than look at his physique for evidence of that; there’s a lot to like about every element of how he goes about his business.”
Playing alongside him at Super Rugby level, Mortlock remembers an intense and committed teammate.
“Mitch always put in 100% no matter the score or the minute of the match, and a huge part of what he provides is that physicality and that hard edge in the way that he plays. He was never scared to talk up internally to the crew and give the boys a rev up.
“He loves everything about the game of Rugby, and with how well he prepares I was always confident he was going to have a very successful career. To notch up 100 Super Rugby games is an enormous achievement."
Inman is a passionate man who wears his emotions on his sleeves, and following six seasons in Melbourne will move to France at year’s end for the next challenge. This week’s match against the Jaguares is likely to be his last ever for the Rebels, and with the current uncertainty surrounding Super Rugby and the Club’s very existence Mortlock has no doubt Inman will be keen to go out on a high.
“As far as any advice to the Big Inners goes, I’d say just do what you’ve always done. For any player who is racking up a milestone, it’s important to remember that everything he has done to get there beforehand, and remember that is what they need to do again.
“As much as you’d like to, the reality is that you’re unlikely to play your best ever game in your 100th, but for Mitch it is more about him being that rock in the midfield and a great communicator and leading by example as he always does.”
Mortlock’s affinity for Inman is replicated by so many who have played with and against him, and more than anything else he remembers the banter.
“He is more than happy to have a bit of a verbal with whoever required it from the opposition – he was never backwards in coming forwards, that’s for sure! Even just the constant banter that we used to have at training, I loved that.
“He would always talk to me with that big draw of his and say “Snorky maaaate, this is what I want to do here”, and we’d always have lots of chat going back and forwards.
“Congratulations Big Inners on a wonderful achievement.”
Mitch Inman becomes the 50th Australian Super Rugby centurion in history.
Mitch Inman Fact File
- Born: 24 October, 1988 (Sydney)
- Super Rugby Caps: 99* (19 Western Force, 80 Melbourne Rebels)
- Super Rugby Points: 30
- Australian Super Rugby centurions: Ben Alexander*, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Al Baxter, Kurtley Beale, Brendan Cannon, Mitch Chapman, Mark Chisholm, Quade Cooper*, Pek Cowan*, Dave Dennis, Matt Dunning, Saia Fainga'a, Adam Freier, Will Genia, Mark Gerrard, Matt Giteau, George Gregan, James Hanson*, Sean Hardman, Nic Henderson, Scott Higginbotham*, Matt Hodgson*, Stephen Hoiles, Greg Holmes, Michael Hooper*, Rob Horne*, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu*, Stephen Larkham, Chris Latham, Christian Leali'ifano*, David Lyons, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, Stirling Mortlock, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, Jeremy Paul, Nick Phipps*, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons*, George Smith, Scott Staniforth, Phil Waugh, Laurie Weeks*, Chris Whittaker, Bill Young
* denotes still playing Super Rugby