Mentors prepare Uelese for potential Test debut

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese feels he would be ready for a Test debut against South Africa, thanks to the mentoring of Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Uelese’s stocks have risen considerably in the past two days, with Moore staying home from the Wallabies’ Perth trip for the arrival of his and wife Courtney’s third child.

His absence opens an opportunity for Uelese, who was a bolter into the Rugby Championship squad with Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu out of favour and injured late in the Shute Shield season.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika isn’t afraid to throw untried youngsters into the Test fray, a gamble that paid off with rookie lock Izack Rodda just a week ago in Dunedin.

Jordan Uelese has earned plenty of praise. Photo: ARU MediaUelese has used his time in camp to soak every bit of knowledge he can off the two elder statesman and it’s that which makes him satisfied he would be ready for the call-up should it come.

“It's been a rollercoaster of a year for me, I’m on a real high right now but with ‘Squeak’ not coming into camp, it really does enhance my hopes of fulfilling a dream,” he said.

“The past month or so that Squeak and Taf have taken me under their wing and have really mentored me and prepared me.

“If the opportunity does arise, I'll be ready for it.

“I'll be going into camp today and see how we go throughout the week.

“If the opportunity does arise I'll be keen to go.”

Latu will join the Wallabies camp in Perth, adding a different dimension to the selection race, and Uelese is not getting ahead of himself in his first stint in a Test squad, after just one decent Super Rugby year.

Tolu Latu is back for the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images“I’m really looking forward to getting into camp with the boys too and really putting in some work before the first game against South Africa for the year,” he said.

The 21-year-old played his first game since the end of Super Rugby on Sunday playing for the Melbourne Rising in the NRC, a valuable opportunity to push his credentials in front of Cheika, but also just a chance to play, something he relished.

“Obviously our Wallabies squad is made up of 30+ players so not everyone's going to get a run,” he said.

“I think the NRC is awesome for our gold pathway,” he said.

“I suppose they give players who don’t really get much game time in Super Rugby to get a sniff of what it's like to play professional footy. especially for grass roots, especially for club players to put their hand up for higher honours.”

The Wallabies take on South Africa in Perth on Saturday September 9, kicking off at 6pm AWST, 8pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten, Win and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.