Third Victorian signs for Rebels
NEWS: Melbourne hooker Jordan Uelese has become the third home grown player to sign his first professional Super Rugby contract with the Melbourne Rebels.
The 19-year-old, who plays for Melbourne University, follows in the footsteps of Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota to rise through Victorian Rugby's elite pathway to sign a contract with the Melbourne Rebels.
It will be the first time in the Melbourne Rebels history that the club has three Victorians on the roster.
"We are pleased with Jordan's development as a hooker over the last 12 months through the Melbourne Rising, Rebels Development Squad and Australian Under-20. He's got an exciting future ahead of him," Melbourne Rebels General Manager Rugby Operations Baden Stephenson said.
"Developing and providing opportunity for home grown talent remains a strategic priority for the Melbourne Rebels so we're pleased the hard work by many people in Victorian Rugby is being recognised."
The Victorian's move from the back to the front row has paid dividends for the 189-centimentre and 122-kilogram hooker.
After helping the Melbourne Rebels U20 to the inaugural Super U20s Championship grand final, Uelese started all five of Australia's games at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester.
"It's a childhood dream come true to sign my first professional contract and even better to get it in my home town of Melbourne," Uelese said.
"I am very grateful to the Rebels for the opportunity and especially my parents Tita and Sekaki Uelese for all they have done to get me this far, without them none of this would be possible.
"I think back in the days you had to move around but it's awesome to be in Melbourne and shows there’s a genuine pathway to being a professional footy player."
Uelese paid tribute to Leota and Tuipulotu for showing local Victorian Rugby players it's possible.
"Rob and Sione gave me a genuine insight and drive to become a professional footballer," Uelese said.
"They've set the standard and showed all the Victorians that it is possible to be a professional player in your home town.
"The Melbourne Rebels have definitely shown that belief in us."
Uelese will line up for the Melbourne Rising in the underpinning National Rugby Championship (NRC) in 2016 after making his debut against the Canberra Vikings in Round Seven last year.