Brumbies defectors out to guide Force to victory over old team
Bayley Kuenzle endured a rough ride in 2021 but the Western Force recruit will hope to put all his troubles behind him when he lines up in Sunday’s Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
Kuenzle joined the Brumbies at the end of 2018 and was a key fixture for the side in 2020.
But his 2021 campaign was hampered by a serious foot injury, with the 23-year-old only recently making a full recovery.
Kuenzle suffered a stress reaction in the navicular bone in his right foot just before the start of last season. After spending almost two months on the sidelines, Kuenzle was able to return to the park, only for the injury to flare up again at the tail-end of the Trans-Tasman competition.
His second stint on the sidelines proved to be the hardest, but he’s glad he got through it.
“I had about three months off. For me it was a struggle, not knowing what the date was when I could get back,” Kuenzle said.
“It was just on feel. Before Chrissie [Christmas], I struggled a bit because I wasn’t training with the boys much.
“But I got over the line a bit over Chrissie and there was a little light at the end of the tunnel. I got some good news that my foot was recovering well, and I was able to work into training.”
Kuenzle is now taking a careful approach with his foot to ensure the injury doesn’t return.
He wears orthotics and sees a podiatrist to ensure everything remains on track.
“If I keep ticking that off, I think I’m in a good state to prevent anything drastic happening to my foot again,” he said.
Kuenzle has been named at inside centre against the Brumbies, with 20-year-old playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa to don the No 10 jersey.
The duo are among five former Brumbies the Force poached during the off-season.
Kuenzle said training with Pasitoa again had been “seamless”, and he’s expecting a big year from the inexperienced playmaker.
“As soon as he came to the Force, you could tell there was a bit of difference in his demeanour,” Kuenzle said.
“He became confident in himself to speak up and lead the boys around. Being at 10 you have to have that confidence to be a leader.
That experience at the Brumbies has helped, but he’s really come into his own (at the Force).
“It’s going to be a big year for him.”
– Justin Chadwick
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