Uele finds fresh fo­cus

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH jonathon. tuxworth@ news. com. au

THE row­ing ma­chine at Cow­boys head­quar­ters was Braden Uele’s arch neme­sis all sum­mer long.

But af­ter ad­mit­ting a lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism was hold­ing him back, a re­newed work ethic has paid off for the prop af­ter a ser­vice­able de­but in Sat­ur­day’s 22- 16 loss to the Roost­ers.

The 22- year- old ran for 41m and made 12 tack­les in his NRL de­but as a late re­place­ment for the in­jured Shaun Fen­som ( rib car­ti­lage).

But he may not get many more op­por­tu­ni­ties in Cow­boys colours, if any at all, with talk Cronulla has shown strong in­ter­est in the off- con­tract for­mer Ju­nior Kiwi.

But for now Uele isn’t think­ing about his fu­ture. It’s all about the present af­ter the Cow­boys’ in­jury toll up­front pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity.

“A lot of my stuff to work on was de­fen­sively and also off the field,” the 114kg young­ster said.

“Last year I wasn’t very dis­ci­plined off- field and I let my­self go. The penny dropped early in the pre­sea­son and I was de­ter­mined to make this my year, and it’s all paid off.

“( It was) diet and ap­ply­ing my­self to be a pro­fes­sional foot­baller. Last year I took a few short cuts and this year I wanted to make my dream a re­al­ity.

“Greens ( Cow­boys coach Paul Green) had a chat to me early in the year and my pre­sea­son was tough; I was 119 or 120 kilos at the start.

“The one thing I re­mem­ber was hav­ing to do a 5km row un­der 20 min­utes every pre­sea­son. It was tough but ... it was all for the best.”

It was a bru­tal ini­ti­a­tion for Uele, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half as the Roost­ers’ for­ward lead­ers took it upon them­selves to lift their side af­ter they trailed 16- 6 at the break.

The hosts com­pleted all 21 of their sets in the sec­ond half and dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory on the back of a 6- 2 sec­ond- half penalty count in their favour.

“I def­i­nitely felt it in the back of my sec­ond stint. My lungs are still burn­ing now,” Uele said. “We spoke dur­ing the week about how they’d power through the mid­dle and then shift. I thought we han­dled it well as the sec­ond half went on, but un­for­tu­nately they just got too much ball.

“De­fen­sively the speed of the game was a shock but I en­joyed it.”

Uele said he would put his fu­ture in the hands of his man­ager as he fo­cuses on mak­ing the most of his un­ex­pected chance.

The Cow­boys will be well stocked for front row­ers next year with Matt Scott and Pat Kau­fusi to both re­turn from sea­son- end­ing in­juries, while Mel­bourne’s Jor­dan McLean will also join the club.

“I’ll just leave that stuff to the off field; I need to fo­cus on my footy,” Uele said.

“I don’t like talk­ing about stuff; it just stresses me out.” that

LIFT­ING HIS GAME: Cow­boys debu­tant Braden Uele is tack­led by Zane Tete­vano, ( left), and Ai­dan Guerra of the Roost­ers at Al­lianz Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day night.

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