Melbourne Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese believes his side is primed to hit the ground running when the Rebels make their maiden Super Rugby AU finals appearance against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Despite entering unfamiliar territory, Uelese believes the pressure is placed firmly on the Reds, and that his sides ‘business as usual’ approach will pay dividends come kick-off.“It hasn’t impacted us too much,” admitted Uelese.
“Yes, the meaning of the game is huge, but the pressure isn’t on us, it’s on them – they got a home final and they’re the in-form team, so we’ve got nothing to lose.
“We’re not going casual about it, but we’re prepping as though it’s just another game.
“The boys have been training really well and are feeling really good – we’re looking to make Melbourne proud.
”Melbourne enters Saturday’s final having won six of the last nine encounters against Queensland, however the Reds claimed the most recent encounter, winning 19-3 back in August.
Uelese says in order to rectify Round 7’s performance and book a spot in this year’s Vodafone Super Rugby Grand Final in Canberra, Melbourne will need to focus on playing attacking rugby, and capitalise on opportunities within the Reds’ twenty-two.
“Last time we went up there, it was our attacking footy – not converting our tries in the twenty-two and obviously we got held up on the line five times as well.
“We get a bit of confidence in that if we convert one or two of those tries, we’re in the game.
“The focus for us has also been our forward pack as well - we know they’ve got some huge strike power there with Lukhan (Salakaia-Loto) and Taniela (Tupou), but we’ve got assets of our own in Jermaine Ainsley and big Trevor Hosea.
“Our forward pack is really raring to go, so it’s probably all about converting those opportunities in the opposition twenty-two.
”As a proud Victorian and one of the original members of the ‘Burn Boys’ – a group focused on raising the status of grassroots rugby across Victoria – Uelese says being a part of his hometown’s maiden finals appearance will be special moment and one which he hopes will bring joy to the people of Melbourne .
“It means a lot, especially with everything that’s going on in Melbourne.
“To give them something to be happy about during this tough time, that’s all we play for each week.
“We go out to play eighty minutes to put smiles on people’s faces in Victoria," explained Uelese.
“I think it means a lot as a Victorian and even the guys who are from Sydney who have been in Melbourne for two and three years – they’re Victorian now – so it means a lot for the club.
“To make history this year would be awesome.”
The Melbourne Rebels face the Queensland Reds in the Vodafone Super Rugby AU Qualifying Final at 7:!5 pm, Saturday night in Brisbane.