Melbourne Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese is determined to make a big impression for the Wallabies in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup, as Australian begins to ramp up preparations for next week’s opening Test in Wellington.
Following three days of strict hotel isolation in Christchurch, Uelese and his new teammates returned to the field yesterday for the first time since arriving in New Zealand on Saturday.
"It's (the Bledisloe opener) starting to feel real now," said Uelese.
"I’ve been really itching to get out there and train and put what we've been learning on zoom into practice.
"There are players out there who have had an awesome Super Rugby season and we've been building.
"We've got a really young squad as well and that's really exciting, so we're looking forward to getting on the field and putting those combinations together."
Uelese will be available for selection after recovering from a shoulder injury suffered during Melbourne’s Super Rugby AU Qualifying Final against the Queensland Reds earlier this month– the same shoulder which forced him to miss the Irish series of 2018.
The twenty-three-year-old is one of four talented hookers vying for selection in the First Test, along with Folau Fainga'a, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Tom Horton, but Uelese says he’s enjoying the friendly competition and that his preparation for the upcoming Test season has never been stronger.
"When I got that injury against the Reds at Suncorp the day before we go into camp, (it was) kind of a bit of deja vu to when I did my ACL at Eden Park the day before we went into camp for that Irish series.
"It's been a blessing this year, (I) finally got a lot of minutes under my belt- haven't had the best run with injuries, but I think the little things I've learnt, becoming a more mature player, you definitely learn ways to look after your body a bit better and I think that's paying dividends today.
"It's the most amount of minutes I've played consistently going into a Test window and that gives me the best foot forward to put myself in the picture to play some Test footy.
"Obviously with four hookers in the team, training's going to be huge and I'll definitely be competing for spots in the coming few weeks."
If selected, the opening Test would prove to be a family affair for Uelese, who grew up in the New Zealand capital where the majority of his family still live.
The young hooker says he’s excited by the prospect of running out in the green and gold in his home city for the first time since making his international debut in 2017.
"I guess you could say it's a home game for me."
"If I do get the nod, that would be really special, it's the first time I'm playing in Wellington since I left my schooldays.
"It'd be really exciting to play at the Cake Tin - I've never played there before, so I'll do everything I can in my power to put my name up for selection."
The Wallabies take on the New Zealand All Blacks in the 2020 Bledisloe Cup beginning on Sunday, October 11 in Wellington, NZ.