Cheika punts on rugby rookie with bad hair

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    He has just 28 minutes of Super Rugby experience, but hooker Jordan Uelese is confident he will be able to hold his own when he makes his Wallabies debut against South Africa in Perth.

    Uelese was the selection bolter when coach Michael Cheika named his squad on Thursday.

    The 20-year-old has been named on the bench on Saturday, and will become the ninth Wallaby to make his debut this year if he makes it out onto the pitch.

    Uelese has made just three appearances off the bench for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby.

    But his hot form at under-20 level and strong performances in Wallabies camp convinced Cheika that Uelese was ready to be thrown into the deep end against South Africa at nib Stadium.

    “I just see so much potential in him,” Cheika said.

    “He’s a very strong scrummager. He’s strong in the physical contest.

    “I figure this is a great opportunity against a team that is renowned for that part of their game.

    “He’s not a quiet guy. He’s prepared to put himself out there, and I like that.

    “Yes, it’s a big occasion. But it’s just rugby.”

    Tatafu Polota-Nau, who will start as hooker, took Uelese under his wing when the youngster first came into Wallabies camp.

    Despite the 12 year age difference, the pair have become good friends, forming a brotherly-type bond.

    Polota-Nau, who dons arguably the best afro in world rugby, was more than happy to put Uelese’s hairdo under the spotlight.

    “I just bag him out for his dislikes, and the fact that he’s got shocking hair,” Polota-Nau said of Uelese, who has shaved the sides of his head at a unique angle.

    “Embrace it really. You just want to grow it, because (then) everyone wants to touch it.

    “Mind you he can dance – that’s one thing I don’t have. I’m quite envious of that.”

    Uelese’s mum, dad, and brother will fly to Perth to watch his debut.

    He said he never dreamed of playing for the Wallabies this early in his career, but now wants to make the most of it.

    “Having 28 minutes of Super Rugby isn’t ideal in terms of experience,” Uelese said.

    “But when you’re training and feeding off the knowledge of all these players, you do feel more comfortable going in. I back myself in that aspect.”

    © AAP 2017

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