Retiring hooker Adam Freier feels next Super Rugby season will be a defining year for the Melbourne Rebels.
The former Wallabies rake confirmed on Friday he’d played his last match for the Rebels, which unfortunately only lasted a few minutes after he tore his calf against the Lions in Johannesburg.
That means he will miss the Rebels’ final match of the Super season on Saturday night (11pm AEST) against the powerful Stormers in Cape Town.
Regardless, he says he’d already made the decision to call time on his career but didn’t want a grand farewell at AAMI Park at their last home game.
The popular 32-year-old, who won 80 NSW caps but only managed 12 for Melbourne due to injuries, said it was “time Peter Pan grew up a little”.
“It would have been my final year (next year) and then it just sort of dawned upon me that I was hanging on instead of trying to get better,” said Freier, who made his debut for the Wallabies in 2002 and earned 16 Test caps.
He said at this early stage, he’s unsure if he will remain in Melbourne and work with the Rebels, but hasn’t ruled out making an appearance in club rugby.
Melbourne will be in the market for another hooker with Ged Robinson the only remaining rake in the squad for 2012.
Freier said he felt the Rebels’ third year since inception would be a big one. They have only managed four wins so far this season.
“I think this club is capable of a lot more and the honeymoon period will be over and I’ve got all the confidence in the world that next year the club will be in much better step,” he said.
“With the players who will be in their third season like Caderyn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Nick Phipps … and then you throw in the superstars we do have like Kurtley (Beale), James O’Connor and now Scott Higginbotham; it’s all starting to come together now.”
Freier said he’d been in contact with the Rebels in Cape Town and felt confident they could cause a massive upset against the South African conference leaders.
He said the fact it was the last game for skipper Stirling Mortlock and favourite forward Al Campbell would mean a lot to the players.
“This is absolutely a game that they know they can win.
“We perform well against good sides – we performed well against the Bulls, the Crusaders.
“It’s going to be difficult but we went over wanting a win so don’t underestimate what the players will do for the retiring players.”