New Zealand globe-trotter Jared Jensen (centre) with his fellow Water Rats team members Conrad van Kan and David Young.
New Zealand globe-trotter Jared Jensen (centre) with his fellow Water Rats team members Conrad van Kan and David Young.

Jensen takes tough break

JUST a few months ago Jared Jensen was faced with a decision most 19-year-olds should not have to comprehend.

To stay in his native New Zealand with his critically ill father, or continue on a trip to Australia.

Mr Jensen, who finished his 13 years of high schooling in New Zealand in 2008, had just returned to New Zealand from a year in Japan as a scholarship student to college at Akimanami.

While there he played first-grade rugby union for Akimanami in the top-tier college competition before being spotted and selected to play for Mazda in the Top League Competition – Japan’s equivalent of the Super 14.

While he never got to play a game in the Top League, he sat on the bench for a number of games and likened the quality to New Zealand’s National Provincial Cup.

“I went to Japan just for a life experience and to get me ready (for life after school) because I had nothing planned,” he said.

“When I first started playing it was just college grade, but then I got through to the Japanese equivalent of the Super 14.”

When Mr Jensen returned to New Zealand this year for a week-long turnaround before jetting off to Australia to live and work in Warwick, home was not the same as when he left – his father was ill with a heart condition.

“I went back and didn’t really know what to expect and was thrown in the deep end a bit,” he said.

“Dad encouraged me to go to Australia. My parents are telling me to take every opportunity I can.”

So he came to the Rose City, where he still is now, to play for the Warwick Water Rats, work and see Australia.

However, instead of things getting better, they got worse – he broke his jaw.

In the Water Rats first A-grade home game since 2005 against Goondiwindi Mr Jensen was knocked out and suffered a snapped right jaw after taking a quick tap in the second half.

“All I remember is the first half, I don’t really remember the second half, just that I took a quick-tap penalty,” he said.

“I’ve had quite a good experience (with the Australian hospital system); I’ve played two games of rugby and been taken to hospital for both.”

Mr Jensen was yesterday in Ipswich meeting with his neurosurgeon to see what the future held in terms of rugby.

He may never be able to play again. Or he might be able to play in six months.

For Mr Jensen, rugby union has always been a part of his life.

“I’ve been playing since I was five, I played for New Brighton (in New Zealand) and I played first XV in school,” he said.

He has aspirations of playing top-level rugby union and possibly making it his career, and if his past record is anything to go by he has the necessary skill set.

“I have played Canterbury representative rugby since the age of 11,” he said.

While he played in the position of hooker throughout all his junior rugby career, when he moved to Japan he started playing flanker – the position he now wants to continue in.

“(The broken jaw) is my first major injury ... it wasn’t too painful at the time because I have a damaged nerve as well,” he said.

For Mr Jensen, much will hinge on what he discovered late yesterday at the doctors. If he can play rugby again, he will look to stay in Australia.

“I’d like to be a policeman if I can’t play rugby again. I like the idea of being physically fit for a job and having a new thing to do every day,” he said. “I’m planning on staying in Australia for at least another six months (and) I would consider living here.”



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