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 2018

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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • September 8th 2017 @ 8:04am
      Sam said | September 8th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Congratulations Jordan, it’s a huge achievement. Good luck, hope you see some game time.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 8:28am
        PiratesRugby said | September 8th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        Hear, hear. Get stuck into them Jordan. #GoRebels

    • September 8th 2017 @ 9:00am
      jameswm said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      Oooh, big punt. Cheika is all for rewarding training form.

      They flew Latu over. Uelese is a bigger unit and mobile for a big guy.

      The ABs would never have to promote a 28-minute rookie but – well – we don’t have the same depth to fall back on.

      Hope he goes well.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 9:21am
        Train Without A Station said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        Not sure how many minutes he played but Nathan Harris wasn’t even in the Chiefs squad in 2014, only got game time due to injuries and made his All Black debut that year.

        • September 8th 2017 @ 9:48am
          Ben said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          2 Chiefs hookers were injured before the season started so Harris was drafted in and actually played the first game of the season and most of the subsequent games.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 9:34am
        Riccardo said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Not so James.

        One Richie McCaw made his debut in 2001 for the Crusaders, and was selected for the All Blacks’ 2001 end-of-year tour, despite having played only eight minutes of Super 12 rugby.

        And despite playing his entire life off-side we all know where that story ended…

        • September 8th 2017 @ 9:41am
          Jerry said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          Isaia Toeava had zero Super Rugby experience when he was selected for the 05 tour.

          That said, NPC is a level above the Aus 3rd tier, so it’s not necessarily a valid comparison. Both McCaw & Toeava had played NPC.

          • September 8th 2017 @ 9:56am
            Train Without A Station said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

            Agreed.

            But with the current U20s program there’s not a lot of unknown on players who come through it.

          • September 8th 2017 @ 11:23am
            Riccardo said | September 8th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

            Nice Jerry.

            But was he offside all the time.

            It’s an important distinction…

            🙂

            • Roar Rookie

              September 8th 2017 @ 2:27pm
              piru said | September 8th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              The ref decides who is offside

              No whistle, no offside

          • September 8th 2017 @ 4:38pm
            Gilbert said | September 8th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

            There was a Sivivatu that came from the npc 2nd division to the all blacks. Made his debut for the ABs before playing super rugby.

            • September 9th 2017 @ 9:32pm
              Jerry said | September 9th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

              Don’t think Waikato were in the 2nd division at that stage – besides, Sivivatu had already played test rugby (including against NZ) before his AB selection, so not sure that really counts.

        • September 8th 2017 @ 12:42pm
          jameswm said | September 8th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          Sure there’s the odd exception, but the ABs don’t normally have to do this. We have a smaller pool of players to fall back on.

          • September 8th 2017 @ 2:14pm
            Train Without A Station said | September 8th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

            This is an odd exception for Australia too.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 2:54pm
        Rugbyfan in WA said | September 8th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

        As mentioned already AB’s tend to select bolters on the EOYT and ease them in a perceived easy test away from the pressure from the NZ media and public expectations.

    • Roar Guru

      September 8th 2017 @ 9:57am
      jeznez said | September 8th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      Wow. Haven’t seen Uelese so excited to have a look.

      Tolu was one of the few Tahs with a bit of form this year. Very curious to know what happened off pitch that has him on the fringe now.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 10:44am
        Markus said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        Probably doesn’t show enough “heart” at training for Cheika’s liking.

        • September 8th 2017 @ 10:51am
          Fionn said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Ridiculous, I agree. Latu played really well this year aside from giving away a few too many penalties. He is one of the few Waratahs whose 2017 form really warranted a Wallabies spot, and he misses out. Hopefully he gets a go in the next few weeks or it will be massively unfair, he’s a good player.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 11:09am
        Grotto said | September 8th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        Watched Latu in the NRC last week. He was pretty ordinary and got pulled for a replacement that played better than him. Not what you’d expect from someone desperate to return to the gold jersey?

        • Roar Guru

          September 8th 2017 @ 3:33pm
          jeznez said | September 8th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          There is something going on and I don’t buy the less fit than Moore and carrying a neck injury stories we have been getting

          • Roar Guru

            September 8th 2017 @ 3:37pm
            Train Without A Station said | September 8th 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

            Apparently there was a fall out with the Waratahs too which saw him dropped.

    • September 8th 2017 @ 10:01am
      Cynical Play said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Latu against Marx? No matchup. Marx will outlast TPN.

      Latu’s size goes against him.

      Marx is top 2 world wide.

      Why not throw the new guy in

      • September 8th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Fionn said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        What have you seen from Uelese that makes you think that he will match any better against Marx? Latu performed well in Super Rugby despite his size. Being bigger does not necessarily = better, Latu has a good motor and has performed.

        Hopefully Uelese does well, however.

        • September 8th 2017 @ 1:23pm
          ThugbyFan said | September 8th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          What I like about T.Latu is he is also a good ruck monkey. But he has had fitness issues both with M.Cheika and D.Gibson at the Tahs and I guess where there is smoke there is fire.

          Maybe coach Cheika thought people would accuse him of a NSW bias if he selected another Tah for the WB. 🙂

        • September 8th 2017 @ 6:24pm
          poyns said | September 8th 2017 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

          Interseting comment, I met Topo years ago and was surprised by his size, or lack of.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 7:19pm
        ScottD said | September 8th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

        I am happy for him but front row against SA is a big ask. I struggle to believe that there isn’t a single hooker or reserve hooker in the 5 Aussie SR teams that doesn’t deserve a spot before him. Surely they can’t all be injured?

      • September 8th 2017 @ 7:19pm
        ScottD said | September 8th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

        I am happy for him but front row against SA is a big ask. I struggle to believe that there isn’t a single hooker or reserve hooker in the 5 Aussie SR teams that doesn’t deserve a spot before him. Surely they can’t all be injured?

        • September 8th 2017 @ 7:41pm
          Ulrich said | September 8th 2017 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

          He will play against the not so great Bongi rather than Marx so there’s no issue really. If Bismarck was on the bench with Marx starting that might have been a bit of a baptism of fire.

    • September 8th 2017 @ 10:09am
      Bluesfan said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      I’m surprised about Uelese getting selected – especially in his position etc. I would have thought it would have being better to select someone like Hanson/Reddy and let Uslese learn his trade in the NRC.

      His equivalent in the NZ U20 is doing exactly that and playing for the Wellington NPC side, though potential he is being talked about being taken away as an “apprentice” on the end of year tour for the AB’s – same as they did with Jordie Barrett.

      Other big news is Tyrel Lomax has just signed for the Highlanders and giving up on Oz rugby to chase AB Dream.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 10:29am
        taylorman said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        I see Hansens giving big ups to Fifita this weekend. Havent heard those sort of comments since Michael Jones was terrorising Auckland club rugby.

        Mins you, we heard them about another Wellington Loosie in Vito so hopefully he hasnt jinxed him… 🙂

        • September 8th 2017 @ 12:42pm
          Ben said | September 8th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          Taylorman…ive been talking Fifita up for the last 2 years on here.
          CUW rubbished me and said he was not that good and certainly no AB……a few others were giving me the “pffftt”…
          He has a truckfull of potential.
          I remember him running down the sideline against Waikato i think it was and literally hurdling a tackler..i thought who does that..it was amazing.
          In 2016, he was still relatively unknown outside of Wgtn and against the Crusaders i remember him giving Kieran Reid a shove in the back of the head causing a bit of a push n shove. I thought this boy got some mongrel as well and is not overwhelmed or over awed.
          His vertical leap is the best in the Canes and i would suspect in the ABs. Hes one of the quickest in the team.
          Like ive been saying on here for 2 years (CUW)….watch this boy…..

      • Roar Rookie

        September 8th 2017 @ 11:00am
        Toulouse Lautrec said | September 8th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        All good, we’ve got Tom Robertson…… sigh……..

        Lomax is a kiwi anyway. So fairs fair.

        • September 8th 2017 @ 1:25pm
          ThugbyFan said | September 8th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

          That’s two props lost to NZ now (M.Alaalatoa and T.Lomax), but we have fatty Tom. Looks for gun to shoot myself!

        • September 8th 2017 @ 7:24pm
          ScottD said | September 8th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

          Don’t worry we still have jermaine Ainsly. The Force rated him as their best tighthead this year. 21 and the son of AB Joe McDowell who reckons he taught him everything he knows. J said he intends to stay in Aus and was at the WB training camp this year so fair is fair.

          • September 10th 2017 @ 12:12pm
            ThugbyFan said | September 10th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

            G’day Scott, now that the ARU have cut the Force, Jermaine would be advised to join the mighty Waratahs, springboard to the Wallabies.

            Serve as apprentice to S.Kepu during the SR2018 season, learn the dark arts training as reserve TH, play a couple of games for 30 minutes and whammo he is in the WB team. Easy As. 🙂

            • Roar Guru

              September 10th 2017 @ 12:19pm
              PeterK said | September 10th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

              exactly any aspiring force player should try and join the tahs, fast tracked into wallabies.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 12:44pm
        jameswm said | September 8th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Seriously?!?!?! For 4 months I’ve been saying the ARU need to sign this guy up. What have they been doing?

        This has really ruined my day.

        Why didn’t they give him a cap against Italy or Scotland or whoever else we played?

        • Roar Rookie

          September 8th 2017 @ 12:56pm
          Die hard said | September 8th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          Cheika tried James. He declined an invitation to the 40 man squad earlier this year.

          • September 8th 2017 @ 1:58pm
            jameswm said | September 8th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

            Is that all we did? Did we sit down and tell him we think he has a future in Australian rugby?

            What’s with NZ stealing our props. First Mick A, now Lomax.

            • September 8th 2017 @ 2:24pm
              MitchO said | September 8th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

              Ainsley is half kiwi half aussie and probably pretty angry at the ARU right now.

              • September 8th 2017 @ 7:32pm
                ScottD said | September 8th 2017 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

                I think his time will come now that he’ll be playing for an eastern states team in 2018

            • September 9th 2017 @ 5:41am
              soapit said | September 9th 2017 @ 5:41am | ! Report

              yeah he probably wasnt too keen to join the list of stockpiled players that get 1 test to lock them in and go back to the bottom of the pile.

              hopefully they explained that wouldnt be the case at least

            • September 9th 2017 @ 6:13am
              Jerry said | September 9th 2017 @ 6:13am | ! Report

              All even now, two stolen apiece.

            • September 9th 2017 @ 7:17am
              Ben said | September 9th 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

              Stealing??
              Its not like Aus hasnt “stolen”any NZ players is it??
              ..and Lomax is a NZ Maori.

      • September 8th 2017 @ 12:51pm
        Ben said | September 8th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        Yup Bluesfan…..Asafo AUMUA is an AB in waiting.
        I havent seen a hooker like this boy…. ever. Coles comes close but he took a few years.
        Aumua is only 20 and setting the npc on fire.
        He made St Pats Silverstream 1st xv as a yr 10. Starred in NZ sec schools and u20s esp the final of that tourny where he scored 3 tries.
        Hes making seasoned npc players look like schoolboys. At 177cm and 107kgs his centre of gravity is so low..but the power he produces! He will get bigger faster stronger yet.
        Watch this boy……

    • September 8th 2017 @ 10:47am
      Tooly said | September 8th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      Nothing new here Chekko likes to collect and wharehouse hookers and wingers . Selections like this make a joke of
      players trying to advance through Super Rugby form .
      We worry about the quality of the player pool but those Chekko insults or ignores moving off shore or to Twiggy is the only option .
      Our under 20 side performed no better than the Wallabies so hardly the place to spot a prodigy .

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