Reinvigorated Auelua ready for Super Rugby again

Brumbies forward Fotu Auelua says that he has recovered from a case of post surgery depression and has set his sights on being selected for the Wallabies.

Auelua missed out on Wallabies selection last year and having lost the Super Rugby final and having undergone his first serious operation he slipped into a mindset he describes as post-surgery depression.

The Brumbies forward missed out on playing against the Lions for the Wallabies last year due to a shoulder injury and that was the start of a turbulent off-season for 29-year-old Auelua.

He weight ballooned to 139 kilograms as he battled with “depression” and lost his passaion for rugby as the off-season drained him mentally.

“Mentally I fell into a slump, the drive wasn’t there and I started to doubt myself,” Auelua said.

“I told the guys I wasn’t happy, I was all over the shop. It wasn’t just rugby, it was a chain reaction and I lost my way.

“I’m so grateful pre-season started when it did … I had post-surgery depression,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“But a guy like David Pocock pushed me, he motivated me, the medical staff got me back and now I’m lifting weights that I wasn’t even doing last year.”

Auelua originally injured his shoulder playing for the Brumbies against the Hurricanes in May last year but after the match the then Wallabies coach Robbie Deans called former Brumbies coach Jake White to tell him that Auelua was in the squad that would play against the Lions.

“It was devastating … I based my return to Australia (in 2012) about being a part of that series and I wasn’t a part of it. I dwelt on it and it brought me down,” Auelua said.

“Jake told him (Deans) my shoulder was gone. We found out it was a full dislocation – that was a battle for me.”

The forward went through the operation and shocked the Brumbies staff when he reported back to camp for the pre-season about 20 kilograms above his playing weight.

However a training stint with former Wallabies captain David Pocock reinvigorated Auelua and he is now down to 121 kilograms and is targeting Wallaby selection this year.

He has been added to a six man Brumbies leadership group with captain Ben Mowen, Stephen Moore, Pocock, Christian Lealiifano and senior back Clyde Rathbone.

Newly appointed Brumbies director of Rugby Laurie Fisher says that Auelua’s actions will speak louder than words.

“It will force him to train hard. We don’t want ‘Fots’ telling people what to do, we want him to show them,” Fisher said.

“He’s a great trainer and a wonderful example of training at 100 per cent. That’s what we want from him.”

Coach Stephen Larkham added, “Fotu didn’t go on a fad diet. He went from 140 kilograms back to 121 kilograms, and he continually worked for it.”

“He’s training with immense intensity and effort now, he really leads by example on the field.”

Initially in 2014 though, Auelua’s goal is to win a regular place in the Brumbies starting line up having spent most of last season as an impact player.

“I’m grateful to be part of the leadership group, it forces me to work hard and I don’t want to let anyone down,” Auelua said.

“(Pocock) has been a massive influence on me this pre-season; it’s a testament to who he is as a player. It’s about what you do on the field, not what you say.”

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