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Rebels veteran off to Japan

Sat, 30 Jun 2012 13:01
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Experienced Rebels back Mark Gerrard has revealed that he's off to Japan and won't be staying on for another season in Melbourne.

The 29-year-old left the limelight for Stirling Mortlock in the build-up to the Rebels' final home of the season against the Reds, and revealed only afterwards that he would be departing.

Big farewell celebrations surrounded the final home matches for Mortlock and Nathan Sharpe in Melbourne and Perth respectively this weekend, but Mortlock was more than happy not to be in the headlines.

"I'm just happy to drift off into the wilderness. I didn't want to make a fuss," Gerrard told AAP.

"It's sad to go but, at the stage I'm at in my career, it was just too good an offer to refuse."

Gerrard will head over to Japan to join second division side Toyota Shokki in late July and is looking forward to experiencing a different culture and a less demanding schedule.

"I'm going to take it easy and enjoy the culture and do a bit of snow-boarding and surfing in the breaks," he said.

Rebels coach Damien Hill has hailed the impact Gerrard has made at the franchise as arguably the team's most consistent performer.

"He's been one of our best players," Hill said.

"We'll miss him ... he's been a leader, he's covered fullback, wing and outside centre for us and he's got one of the best kicking games in the whole competition.

"We fully respect his decision - we're lucky to have had him for the time we have."

Gerrard will only play one of the Rebels' final two matches on their South African tour, as he plans to fly home for the birth of his son.

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