From injury disaster to international comeback: The Wallabies rookie primed for return to test arena
In 2018 Uelese was first-choice rake for Australia in their Ireland series but suffered a serious knee injury while turning out for Melbourne in the last round.
This time luck was on his side with the 23-year-old one of four hookers available for Wallabies selection for the opening test in Wellington on October 11.
“When I got that injury against the Reds the day before we went into camp it was a bit of de ja vu back to when I did my ACL at Eden Park the day before we went into camp for that Ireland series,” Uelese said on Tuesday.
“It’s been a blessing this year – I’ve finally got a lot of minutes under my belt as I haven’t had the best run.”
That injury run has limited Uelese to just nine caps since his 2017 debut but his consistent game time with the Rebels has him primed for a big international season.
“Those minutes give you more confidence going in but obviously with four hookers in the team training is going to be huge,” he said.
Uelese says the Wallabies’ appointment of Melbourne’s forward coach Geoff Parling could give him a “head-start” given their short build-up to the first test, compounded by three days in lockdown in their Christchurch hotel.
Arriving late Friday night, they will hit the training paddock for the first time on Tuesday afternoon.
Uelese was born and raised in Wellington before shifting to Melbourne in 2008 and said he was excited to see some family, including some of his four brothers.
David Havili was perhaps the most impressive player in New Zealand earlier this year. Injury may have curtailed his Super Rugby season, but it certainly hasn't affected his form. #AllBlackshttps://t.co/AIq9WiVCFT
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 28, 2020
He has had to make do with his Rebels brethren, with the players away from Melbourne since June to play Super Rugby AU and now test matches.
Uelese said the nine Rebels players within the Wallabies had become tight and he hoped the bond could transfer to the Wallabies.
“You go through your troughs and highs but being with the Wallabies and having the chance to make history and win the Bledisloe outweigh the home sickness,” he said.
“It’s been tough but you make a new family and these boys are my brothers now.
“These are the guys you rely on on the field so you’ve got to build those bonds off the field so that’s a positive.”
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