Rebels star’s $10,000 investment paying off
After just 14 games in three seasons with the Melbourne Rebels, Jordan Uelese decided $10,000 was a small investment in his future.
The 23-year-old Wallaby played more games for Australia at the World Cup last year (five) than he did in his third season at the Rebels.
His three appearances in 2019 came after just eight the year before, and only three before that. He has only started on the field four times, and come off the bench in the other 10 matches.
Two knee reconstructions were among the host of injuries which continued to plague the ultra-talented hooker who made his international debut as a 20-year-old.
But when the continued pain from a knee issue started to affect his hamstring during the pre-season, forcing him to miss the start of the Super Rugby season, he'd finally had enough.
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So, on the advice of teammate Reece Hodge, Uelese purchased recovery pumps and a portable ice machine as part of an investment in his body he felt had to make, or risk spending so much time in the rehab group that rugby could forget about him.
"I'm getting a bit older, more mature, so I have invested in my body," Uelese said ahead of his first game for the season against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
"It's been very, very frustrating. It's been a long time since I've had a full season, and even this year has been disrupted already. And it really takes a toll mentally. You wonder whether you are good enough, or 'will my body last?'
"So those are small investments because we get paid to do this job and if you are not on the field, you won't be here much longer."
Uelese had been such a fixture in the rehab group at the Rebels, he was well aware of the equipment available to him.
But putting his hand in his pocket was the hard part, until the frustration of not playing the game he loved started to bite.
"When something costs so much, you just hold back. With these recent injuries though, I felt I needed to invest," he said.
"I'm only young, I've had two knee reconstructions, and I've got a lot of years left and I'm all about longevity and trying to get my body right at the moment.
"I'm from Melbourne, this is my city, and it means a lot to represent this club and my family. Every time I sit in the stand, it hurts.
"That's why I have taken the time to invest in myself. I have taken it upon myself not to be injured anymore, to do whatever it takes to prevent that stuff."
But that won't extend to holding back when Uelese crosses the white line on Friday.
He's as fit as he's ever been, having also dropped weight as another injury prevention method and has not only ticked every medical box, he knows he's got no laurels to rest on.
He has to prove himself all over again.
"My position is on the line, we have four hookers, I'm in no position to hold back," he said.
"I haven't played and I just missed it. I'm just ready to play my heart out. There's no handbrakes."