Melbourne Rebels and Victoria’s own Jordan Uelese and Trevor Hosea are excited about the prospect of taking on the All Blacks in New Zealand after what has been a big year for the club and the Victorian bred academy products.
After landing in New Zealand at the start of last week, the boys, along with the rest of the Wallabies squad, have been quarantining in an isolated hotel facility in Christchurch as they prepare for the challenge of taking on the All Blacks this Sunday in the opening Bledisloe Cup fixture.
For Uelese, this is the first camp since last year’s Rugby World Cup, for Hosea, this is his first experience of being a part of a Wallabies Camp after making his Super Rugby debut just three months prior.
“It’s pretty surreal, I’m still buzzing!,” exclaimed Hosea.
“I came into this year looking to get a couple of Rebels games under my belt, so to have an opportunity like this I’m just so grateful.
“I’m trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can from some of the older boys and just really enjoying the experience.”
Uelese has been a constant in the Wallabies fold since his debut against South Africa in 2017 and is excited about being back in camp along with the new Victorian squad members.
“It’s been great getting back into camp with the boys,” said Uelese.
“Awesome to see a couple of Burn Boys come through as well.
“Training’s been pretty tough but it’s obviously good prep for the boys for Sunday.”
This is Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s first camp as well, with the Super Rugby winning coach being appointed to the position in November 2019. Hosea and Uelese see a strong culture growing under his tutelage.
“Coach Rennie has really focussed on the culture and identity of the group and the cultures that also exist within the group, which has really brought the boys closer together,” said Hosea.
Uelese echoed these sentiments.
“The squads really come together and bonded over the past couple of weeks, especially obviously with quarantine over here in New Zealand,” said Uelese.
“It’s a great mix of experience and youth as well.”
During the quarantine period the boys had time to reflect on the journeys they had taken to get to this stage in their careers, from playing junior Victorian Rugby to being selected in the Wallabies squad.
“Coming through the Victorian juniors starting with Kiwi Hawthorn Rugby Club when I was 6 and then onto Harlequins and the Fountain Gate Rugby Academy, made me realise that the opportunities are there, you’ve just got to train hard and love the grind,” said Hosea.
“The support network that I had growing up was also amazing, especially my mum, dad and uncle Eric, they really helped me climb the Victorian ranks and helped me to get where I am today.
“To be able to debut for the Rebels this year and represent the Victorian pathway that enabled me to get where I am, it meant everything.”
Uelese also reflected on the growth of Victorian Rugby since his early rugby days.
“Looking back from when I came up through the junior Victorian ranks to now, you can really see that Rugby has grown a lot in the state of Victoria, especially with the introduction of the Rebels,” said Uelese.
“The Academy system has also been huge to help identify and bring local Victorian talent through, which is the case with Trevor, Pone and myself being selected into this Wallaby squad.”
Despite being thousands of kilometres away and not having been home for over three months, the boys are always thinking of their friends and family as well as the Rebels supporters and the wider Victorian Rugby community.
“The support of our members and the Victorian rugby community has been huge for us, especially being away at Terrigal for 12 weeks and on the road for the Super AU season,” said Uelese.
“It has helped us through the tough times so thank you for the support it means a lot.
“We are definitely all thinking about our fellow Victorians back home.”
Hosea couldn’t agree more.
“We are very grateful for all the love and support in Melbourne, it has really helped us week in and week out,” said Hosea.
“We can’t wait to play in front of all of you at the stockade in 2021 and the boys will hopefully do you proud this weekend.”