ACT Brumbies hardman Fotu Auelua is refusing to let another pre-season setback ruin his year

Resilient: Fotu Auelua will make a comeback from knee surgery next month. Photo: Stuart WalmsleyACT Brumbies hardman Fotu Auelua is refusing to let another pre-season injury setback ruin his year, vowing to make sure he has an immediate impact when he gets a delayed start to Super Rugby next month.

Auelua also warned the Brumbies that they could not rest on results of the previous two seasons to help their bid to win the championship as they set their sights on ending an 11-year title drought.

Auelua had knee surgery last week and hopes to make a comeback within four weeks after having loose cartilage removed.

It’s the third year in a row Auelua’s season preparation has been thrown into disarray by injury.

But the 115kg destroyer says he will work tirelessly over the next four weeks to ensure he doesn’t fall behind his teammates when they begin their season on February 13.

“It does get frustrating when you do all of the pre-season and then don’t get the rewards of being able to play in games,” Auelua said.

“But they took out a lot of cartilage and that’s the reason my knee was swelling up. You always think ‘Why me?’ when you get injured. But I’ve got to find a positive.

“I’m happy I can compete and be a part of this team. I want to play my part, I want to make the most for the team and make sure I’m not behind the eight ball. We owe it to each other to do better this year. We’ve been close the last couple of years, but that’s not good enough.”

Auelua has started his rehabilitation program and could be out of action for up to six weeks.

He joins a list of Brumbies on the comeback trail, with captain Stephen Moore on track to play from the bench in round one and fullback Jesse Mogg expected to return from a shoulder reconstruction in the first five weeks of the season.

But Auelua’s absence hasn’t been all bad. His injury opened the door for former tag-team islander bash brother Ita Vaea to be on the cusp of a shock Super Rugby return more than two years after doctors found blood clots on Vaea’s heart.

The two players formed a devastating wrecking ball combination when they teamed up for the first time in 2012.

But Vaea’s life-threatening illness put his career on hold while Auelua established himself as one of the most feared players in Super Rugby.

Vaea will likely be offered a supplementary contract or extended player squad deal with the Brumbies and the powerful Tongan is in contention to play against the Queensland Reds in the season opener.

Auelua is excited at the potential of reuniting in a frightening back-row combination, adamant the duo will drive each other to reach greater heights this season.

Auelua’s contract expires at the end of the season, but he has put negotiations and his Wallabies ambitions on hold to focus on the short term and make sure he gets through the year without unfinished business.

“Ita has always had that raw ability to just smack guys and we just feed off each other,” Auelua said.

“I see things he does on the field and I think to myself ‘I’ve got to top that’. That’s the beauty of having someone in a similar mould to you. Who would have thought Ita would be back, I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m not looking too far ahead. I’ve got to be head down, arse up and work towards playing again. I don’t want to leave this group, we all started with nothing and now we’ve had massive growth.

“I don’t want to leave here and leave it incomplete. We want to do well together and win this title. It won’t be easy, but we’ve got the group to succeed.”


February 13: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

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