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Abel on new mission with Brumbies


Chris Dutton

Mormon Robbie Abel is focused on Brumbies and Super Rugby, Chris Dutton writes.

Brumbies hopeful Robbie Abel has just returned from a two-year Mormon mission in WA.

Brumbies hopeful Robbie Abel has just returned from a two-year Mormon mission in WA. Photo: Rohan Thomson

From the streets of Western Australia to being on the verge of his Super Rugby dream, Robbie Abel credits his two-year Mormon mission with igniting his rugby career.

And after two years of no sport and no training, the aspiring hooker is more determined than ever to chase his goal of winning a spot in the ACT Brumbies squad.

Like NRL star Will Hopoate, Abel put his religion before his career when he opted to begin his service as a missionary in August 2010.

At the time, the former Australian Schoolboys star was weighing up whether to chase a Super Rugby deal or ''give up normal life'' to go on his mission in Western Australia.

In the end, religion took priority and Abel travelled around the state teaching his religion to anyone he came across.

But now he's back and, despite playing just four games in the past 2½ years, Abel wants a crack at Super Rugby and has impressed the Brumbies enough to get a chance to train with the full-time squad.

''Coming back here now, there are a lot of things in life that I've learned and can put into rugby … the mission taught me how to work hard and really have a crack,'' Abel said. ''When you make the transition from normal life into full-time missionary service, you're very much thrown in the deep end straight away.

''One day you're a normal kid and the next you're teaching people and doing something you've never done before.

''That's what rugby is like now, being thrown back in the deep end. I definitely wanted to come back and play, but I never knew I would get an opportunity like this.''

Abel was establishing himself as a star on the rise before leaving the capital.

By 21, he had played for the Australian Schoolboys, was a regular member of the Royals first-grade side and was training with the Brumbies Academy.

But he decided if he didn't do his Mormon mission, he would never get the chance.

It meant sacrificing television, sport and music to spend every day on the streets until 10.30pm and spreading his religion to different communities.

There were times when he feared he would never get a chance to recapture the promising rugby career he was building.

But one of the first places he went when he got back to Canberra was Brumbies headquarters in Griffith.

His initiation was brutal - a one-on-one scrum session with Dan Palmer - and after two years of no gym or scrum work, Abel's body felt the pain.

A knee injury to Brumbies extended squad player Josh Mann-Rea has opened the door for Abel to push his claims as a back-up hooker to Stephen Moore and Siliva Siliva. And Brumbies forwards coach Laurie Fisher said the 23-year-old's determination was evident from the start.

''He's a good trainer, he works hard but he's pretty raw knowledge wise,'' Fisher said.

''He's a great kid, I've been really impressed by him and you can see when a bloke is hungry to make it or for an opportunity.

''He's leaving no stone unturned, he's showing us he's a dedicated trainer and he can make progress and that's what you look for.''

Abel has no regrets about putting his career on hold.

Despite not training during his mission, Abel is stronger than he has been in the past.

The biggest problem he's faced since returning is being unable to sit through a movie or watch television. ''TV feels like a waste of time now, I can't watch movies any more because I can't get through a whole one,'' Abel said. ''I feel blessed in a lot of ways to get the chances I've got now and find strength I've never had before.

''I loved my two years, they were awesome … if I didn't go then I would have never gone and I'm definitely glad with the position I'm in now.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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