Jordan Uelese’s mum, Tita, couldn’t leave too many fragile things lying around the family home.
If she did, they were in grave danger.
“My mum had to put up with six men in the house. There were a lot of things broken in the house just running around throwing the footy,” Jordan laughed.
Growing up in South Morang as one of five brothers, Jordan has a strong connection to his tight-knit family.
“I think I get my love for my sport from my older brothers who were my role models in life, and my old man,” Jordan said.
“Growing up as a child, we didn’t have much but we never went without, so my parents are huge role models for myself.”
Jordan’s father, Sekaki, was a handy rugby player himself and played up until he was 45.
It’s clear that he had a major influence on Jordan, both in rugby and in life.
“I used to go and watch my old man all the time. I’d play my games in the morning and then go and watch his games in the afternoon,” Jordan said.
“Saturday mornings right through until night was a huge day for our family because it was pretty much just rugby – rugby, rugby, rugby.”
“He is someone that to this day is probably my number one coach.”
While Saturdays were dominated by rugby, church was also a very important priority in Jordan’s childhood.
“My family used to be very church-oriented growing up so we spent a lot of time at church,” Jordan said.
“Our churches always used to play other churches in sport. We always used to get involved in Seven’s tournaments, volleyball tournaments.” In February this year, Jordan cracked a senior debut for the Melbourne Rebels, having been in their junior pathway since he was 14.
A Rebels fan since they entered the Super Rugby competition in 2011, it was a special moment.
“Growing up as a child, I’ve always wanted to be a professional rugby player and playing for the Melbourne Rebels,” Jordan said.
“The team obviously has a special place in my heart and it’s good to finally get an opportunity to don the jersey and be part of it, it’s a dream come true.”
His success came after switching positions from the back row to hooker, a transition that he admits he is still finding difficult at times, particularly as his entire family had only ever started in the back row.
“My old man was a number eight. My whole family played in the back row and I used to play in the back row until about two years ago, I was approached by the Rebels to move positions to hooker, maybe I gained a few too many pounds so they threw me into the front row,” he laughed.
“It is a huge change, learning how to throw the ball into the lineout, learning how to scrum,” Jordan said. “I’m continuing to learn every day. I’m continuing to learn every day and it’s good to have peers around me who have been supporting me.” Recently, he’s been selected for the Australian U/20 team that is in Georgia to compete in the U/20 World Rugby Championship.
“It’s an honour to represent your country and travel away with the best players in your age group in Australia,” Jordan said.
“It’s an unreal experience and something I can really be proud of in terms of representing my family and my country.”
However, he’s diligent about not letting his rise in the rugby world go to his head, determined to stay grounded and have something to fall back on if things do go wrong.
As a result, he’s recently enrolled into a business course at Griffith University that begins in August, intrigued in the way that people choose to invest their money.
“You never know, I might play on the weekend and get a season-ending injury or career-ending injury,” Jordan said.
“Rugby’s obviously not going to last a long time so I guess I just have to get my head in the books.”
Tim Howe is a second year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter here: @timhowe97
Jake Bokhove is a second year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Sport Journalism) student at La Trobe University.