Melbourne Rebels Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach, Shane Lehane, is relishing his new role at the Wallabies and says he’s proud to be representing the green and gold on one of world rugby’s biggest stages.
Lehane was recently included in Dave Rennie’s new look support team, capping a whirlwind three-months for the popular Irishman, who had just wrapped up a 14-week road trip with the Melbourne Rebels, during the club’s inaugural Super Rugby AU campaign.
However, Lehane is no stranger to life on the road, having spent over 13 years living away from his hometown of Cohh, Ireland.
Following five-years with the Leicester Tigers in the UK, Lehane took over the Rebels’ Head of Strength and Conditioning position in 2015, before international honours came calling in September this year.
Lehane admits it’s been an exciting past few weeks but remains aware his ascension to national ranks represents more than “just a job opportunity.”
“It’s a big opportunity and an exciting career opportunity as someone who wants to become an Australian citizen and as someone whose daughter has been born here, it’s bigger than just a job opportunity as well,” Lehane said.
“I’m pretty proud to be representing Australia full stop, so to be representing the national team is definitely exciting.
The Wallabies tour of New Zealand got off to an unusual start, when all staff and players were required to undergo a 14-day isolation period upon their arrivals, including a strict three-day hotel quarantine, before training would be permitted.
Unable to leave their rooms and interact with one another, Lehane says online training sessions through Zoom were vital in keeping a new-look Wallabies side engaged and connected.
“We hadn’t been together that long in New Zealand, so trying to keep the group connected was a major focus at that time."
“We managed to do that through, I guess during the COVID period, where we would connect over Zoom, through meetings and training sessions.
“I actually think we did pretty well in that period, keeping the group engaged and together through virtually interacting with them.”
While the majority of Lehane’s Super Rugby AU tour experiences had helped him prepare for the Wallabies opening week of isolation, one provided a source of extreme discomfort.
Now known as the famous ‘fishing trip gone wrong’, Lehane endured “days of pain”, thanks to the creative thinking of Performance Analyst, John Batina.
“We had this long-standing game going on about chances over there on tour.”
“I lost a bet to eat some defrosted fish bait which I wrongly refused to do because we were playing the Waratahs the next day, but John Batina got me back.
“We had a curry night out and he got the staff to create a pint of the hottest curry sauces and spices that he could find, and I had to down that instead, so it probably ended up much worse for me.
“There were certainly a couple days of pain after that for me, after not eating the fish bait.
“That’s how we started to entertain each other after such a long tour period.”
The Wallabies take on the New Zealand All Blacks in the third match of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup at ANZ Stadium, Saturday October 31.