Academy Players take Unexpected Detour on their way towards a Melbourne Rebels Jumper

by Rugby Vic Media

2020 has thrown up a lot of challenges for everyone. This includes some of Victoria’s rising Rugby stars.

Mosese Tuipulotu (Easts, Sydney) , Josh Canham  (Eastwood, Sydney), Isaac Aedo Kailea  (UQ, Brisbane), Alex Sa’aga (UQ, Brisbane) and Oscar Guilding (Taroona, Tasmania) have all headed interstate this year after the 2020 Victorian Rugby season did not get underway due to COVID-19.

These Melbourne Rebels Academy players, looking to follow in the footsteps of previous Academy members and current Super Rugby stars Jordan Uelese and Rob Leota, are hoping to continue their upward trajectory in 2020 despite a global pandemic.

The Victorians have had to move to all corners of the country to realise this.

“It has been important and integral to the boys development that they continue to see solid minutes out on the pitch this year despite the obvious set-backs,” said Head of the Melbourne Rebels Academy Nic Henderson.

“As disappointing as it is that they’re unable to compete locally in the Dewar Shield this year, it is good to see that they have taken the opportunity to build on their skill-sets interstate and then continue their progression towards a Rebels guernsey in 2021.”

We caught up with Josh Canham and Alex Sa’aga to see how they have dealt with the challenging year that is 2020 and find out what their Rugby aspirations are.

Alex Sa’aga

How long have you been in Brisbane for?

I flew up to Brisbane alongside my academy team mate Isaac Aedo Kailea on June 15 where we started our 2 week quarantine. Since then we’ve played a number of games for the University of Queensland in the Hospital Cup, the Premier Club competition in the state.

How are you finding settling into the team?

Settling in with a new team has definitely been easier than expected. The players and the staff were very welcoming on our arrival/first session out of quarantine. It’s been great mixing it with some quality players and there’s been a lot of learning from great coaches.

How are you finding being away from family and friends during these unprecedented times?

It was certainly tough hearing that Victoria was being placed into a second lockdown. It’s not easy knowing that our families and friends back home are struggling but it’s all the more reason for myself and a few other Academy boys to work harder and make the most of an opportunity that we are very fortunate to have.

What is the thing about Victorian Rugby that you are missing the most this season?

The best thing about Victorian rugby is being around friends. I miss the little things like rocking up to academy on Monday mornings and listening to everyone give each other a bit of niggle about the results on the weekend and watching Mosese go on one of his famous rants about every topic under the sun before deciding to lift some weights.

What is your message to the Victorian Rugby Community at home?

All I can say is stay safe and do the right thing. Everyone is keen to get back on the paddock as soon as possible and like a game of rugby it’s going to take a team effort to make sure that can happen sooner than later.

What are your goals and aspirations in your rugby career?

I am just excited to be playing rugby at the moment. Having not played for so long, it is just a privilege to be playing the game I love. My current goal is to keep playing in first grade with University of Queensland this year, hopefully win a premiership and then bring the experiences and knowledge that I have gained back down to Melbourne. Most importantly, I just want to keep improving every week. If I can do that, the rest will take care of itself.

Josh Canham

How long have you been in Sydney for?

I moved to Sydney on the 18th of July and did my 2 weeks of isolation and got straight into training.

How are you finding settling into the team?

I have been settling in more and more each week, the club at Eastwood has a good culture. The players and staff have made it easy to settle in which has been a huge positive.

How are you finding being away from family and friends during these unprecedented times?

It’s been very tough being away from family and friends, I’ve been missing a lot of people but being able to play rugby this year helps with homesickness and has allowed me to focus on my rugby.

What is the best thing about Victorian Rugby that you are missing this season?

I was really looking forward to playing with the boys at harlequins this year, really disappointed the season didn’t go ahead. I hope everyone’s staying safe, keeping positive as possible and staying active. We’ll come back bigger and better as a state next year.

What are your goals and aspirations in your rugby career?

My main goal for the next year is too make the Australian under 20s as I think it will be a huge learning experience and a big test for me as a player as well as a good step towards super rugby with the Melbourne Rebels. Making the team next year or not, just constant progression is success to me.

You can catch the boys in action through the links below:

Alex Sa’aga (UQ), Isaac Aedo Kailea (UQ) in the 2020 Hospital Cup

Mosese Tuipulotu (Eastwood) , Josh Canham (Eastwood) in Sydney Club Rugby

Oscar Guilding (Taroona) in Tasmanian Club Rugby