One of rugby's true nice guys says farewell

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

You won't find a better bloke in Australian rugby than Mitch Inman.

It only takes a few minutes of observation to figure that much out and even from afar, it's clear how much his teammates revere him.

RUGBY.com.au watched Nic Stirzaker put the Rebels through a light captain's run on Thursday afternoon and it's fair to say there was a good vibe reverberating around AAMI Park.

Boisterous laughs echoed around the empty stands as they prepared for Friday's final round clash with the Jaguares but when Inman spoke, you could hear a pin drop.

When he says, 'Jump,' the players ask, 'How high?'.Mitch Inman says farewell to the Rebels tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesWhen he leads on-field, his teammates follow.

Then there is the off-field character, who makes an immediate impression from the moment he greets you.

He's the guy that knows each member of the Rebels front office by name, always the first to ask how everything is going and if there is anything he can do to help, the guy that lives and breathes rugby in the quest for Wallaby gold.Inman has been part of the Melbourne furniture for five years. Photo: Getty ImagesThat guy plays his 100th Super Rugby match on Friday night.

That's a milestone the 28-year-old will savour but given that it will also be his final match, there was a hint of sadness in Inman's voice when he reflected on his career, speaking to RUGBY.com.au.

"Obviously as cliche as it sounds I did try to leave no stone unturned," he said.

"I will look back on my experience here fondly.

"There have definitely been some ups and downs but for a period there, I think in 2015 we were looking pretty promising and we were expected to play well in 2016 but we didn't live up to that expectation.

"That's footy and I guess that's life as well.Inman will join Oyonnax for the 2018 season. Photo: Getty Images"That's the way I tried to lead being an older player now."

Inman is heading to France at the end of the season to ply his trade for Oyonnax, a newly promoted Top 14 club, after a 2015 injury cover stint  with Toulon whet his appetite for the French competition.

"I just loved how the whole town gets behind the team and there was a real sort of community mentality," he said.

"It was a really enjoyable experience.

"I'm obviously getting closer to the end of my career and I thought an opportunity like this, I can't really pass up.Inman doesn't mind doing the tough stuff. Photo: Getty Images"I really enjoyed my time in France two years ago and (want) to get back and experience what I experienced a few years ago."

Inman is all about putting family first and he remains close with his brothers, Dane and Luke.

Their father, Ron, passed away in 2007, having cherished every moment his sons spent on field.

Ron dreamed of Inman pulling on Wallaby gold and he has been agonisingly close to doing so in his eight years at Super Rugby level.

"Obviously I wanted to play for Australia but didn't that eventuate," he said.

"As you get a bit older you have to be realistic.

"For a few years there I was knocking on the door and I got some feedback from the coaches at that level that said I was pretty promising.

"I would have loved to get an opportunity like that but that's life - you can't always get what you want.

"As you get older, it's the same in the professional world, you have to reassess your options."


Now, as France beckons, Inman wants to farewell the playing group in style.

"I see a lot of potential in a lot of these players and I think there is a bright future in a lot of these players," he said.

"Our results this year and last year haven't been great but I've found the camaraderie between players is something I have never experienced before.

"We are very, very close and that's a big factor in what is holding the club together at the moment.

"They're a great bunch of boys and that's why I re-signed a few years back.

"I have had a great experience here and I will be friends with all these players for a very, very long time.

"I will be watching with great interest from afar in Europe."

The Rebels take on the Jaguares on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

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