“I knew straight away’
Melbourne Rebels backrower Josh Kemeny has opened up on his return from an ACL injury as part of the second episode of 'Rebel Within', following the 24-year-old's recovery process.
Kemeny experienced a breakout 2021 campaign, one of several bolters in then-Wallabies coach Dave Rennie's first squad of the year.
Looking to keep himself fit, Kemeny ventured up to Brisbane to play club footy for Wests in July 2021, only to suffer the setback that would keep him out of the entirety of the 2022 Super Rugby season.
“I was excited to get some Rugby in and for the new challenge…15 minutes into the first game I made a line break and stepped off my left at full speed and my ACL went,” he recalled.
“I remember when the physio ran on and I said ‘you need to check my ACL because I think I’ve done it’ so I definitely had that feeling straight away."
Kemeny was frank about the mental struggles he went through during his recovery amid border closures and isolation from friends and family.
He details the pressure of a young athlete going through months of setbacks and hurdles as he tries to continue to live his Rugby dream.
“It was quite clear there and then that I was going to have a long and difficult road ahead that I needed to step up for on my own because my housemate had moved overseas to pursue a deal in the UK and then borders and lockdowns left a lot of players away from Melbourne and my family couldn’t then get down from NSW," he explained.
“It’s the first major injury I’ve had since Rugby has been my career and it's something that’s fully overcome me. Before Rugby was a massive thing in my life, but I was also working and studying, living with friends or family and had those support networks.
“The stakes are definitely higher this time around given its career so it has definitely posed its challenges.”
Kemeny is back at full fitness, making his return on the Rebels' tour of Japan in October as he scored during the 50-17 victory over Kintetsu Liners.
“It’s been a literal rollercoaster because there have been so many times that things were going, you’d go up and up and then fall pretty fast down," he added.
“I wish I didn’t have the setbacks along the way but thinking back on it, it’ll make me a more resistant player and person and make me better.
“I want to be as resilient of an athlete as possible, stay on the park and that’ll go into having a good year with the Rebels. I want us to win and have a good culture and go as best as we possibly can.
“The lessons and growth that I’ve had will make me a better player because isn’t a strict physical, there’s a mental and motivational side to everything. I’m hungry and keen to play as well as keep getting better. I think it’ll hopefully work out for me in the long run.”