Luke Jacobson hoping to pick up where he left off with Chiefs
The 21-year-old is gearing up for his second Super Rugby season and is thankful to be involved after missing a large part of 2018 through concussion.
“It’s been going good,” Jacobson told RugbyPass when asked how the preseason is going.
“I’ve personally had a little bit of a different journey to everyone else coming back from injury but I’ve been able to get back into it over the last couple of weeks, it’s been good to throw the footy ball around and get amongst it with the boys.”
After a promising start to his professional career, the former New Zealand U20 captain took an elbow to the head during the final regular season fixture of the season and has spent the last six months recovering, missing the entire Mitre 10 Cup season for Waikato.
“She’s a pretty slow couple of months there for a while but things are looking pretty good now,” he said. “I just got cleared for contact yesterday so should be looking to get back in the thick of things within the next three weeks.”
“We’re probably looking at about three weeks from now to be able to start playing, I don’t know how that’ll look – me returning – I might be playing a little bit of club [rugby[ or whatever, just trying to get back into the swing of things.”
As for personal aspirations in 2019, Jacobson has his eyes fixated on one goal in particular.
“I’d like to get back into footy for starters,” he said.
“I’d be really keen to try and push for a starting spot. There’s definitely some good competition. If I was able to do that I’d be pretty happy with that.”
Jacobson primarily operates at blindside and number eight, and has a good chance to get some more reps under his belt following the departure of longtime Chief Liam Messam, who largely occupied the No. 6 jersey during his 179-match tenure with the side.
As for how the team is preparing as a whole for the new season, Jacobson is optimistic that the Chiefs can improve after making the quarterfinals last year in Colin Cooper’s first year in charge.
“There’s a few new faces, a couple of boys are first years and a couple of boys coming in from different places but I think everyone’s starting to gel together pretty well.
“Having the All Blacks back in definitely lifts up everything in regards to the level, also they bring good culture to the team as well.
“Everybody looks up to them, they come in and they’re the friendliest guys there. There’s no chip on anybody’s shoulder and everyone’s on the same playing field.”
2019 will also be star first five-eighth Damian McKenzie’s second full season in the No. 10 jersey, something Jacobson is excited for.
“He brings a pretty electric style to our game,” he said.
“A lot of our play comes off the back of him obviously being first five. I think he’ll be better for it this year, I mean he was pretty good last year but with another year in the saddle he’ll be much better for it.”
Jacobson also shed light on a potential future Chief, Waikato midfielder Quinn Tupaea.
The 19-year-old starred for Waikato in 2018 and was tipped by many to take a place on a Super Rugby squad. That hasn’t materialised yet but Tupaea has been with the Chiefs during the preseason on an Interim Training Contract, where he has impressed.
“He’s in there as an ITC at the moment but the numbers he pushes out in the gym, I think he’s on of the PBers for almost every lift at his position,” Jacobson said. “He’s a bit of a man child but he definitely fits right in out there, as do quite a lot of the ITC boys in there.
“I think he’s been hard done by a little bit not being amongst that sort of thing [Super Rugby] but he’ll do really well with the U20s.
“I’m unsure what his plans are after that but I’m sure he’ll be in and around.”
The Chiefs continue their preseason in Queensland on Friday with a match against the Reds, where Tupaea features among the reserves.
Should Jacobson hit his three-week target, he should be on track for a Super Rugby return for his side’s home hitout against the Sunwolves on March 2, dependent on whether he jumps straight back into Super Rugby action.
The regular season will kick off for the Chiefs next Friday when they host the Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato.
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