Jack Maddocks: The Australian U20s star who’d barely entered a gym

At just 20, Melbourne young gun Jack Maddocks leads the NRC competition in metres gained, has the second most carries of any player and is third on the stats sheet for clean breaks, defenders beaten and offloads.

Not bad for a kid who admits he’d barely even walked into a gym 18 months ago.

“When I first came down to the Rebels last year, I remember I picked up one of the smaller dumbbells and I got some pretty strange looks from the older boys and that made me realise I had a long road ahead of me,” Maddocks recalled.

“I used to really hate the gym and it probably took me a few months to get used to it but once you spend a bit more time there and get proper coaching, it becomes a bit less of a chore and it gives you a bit of an appetite to get stuck in.”

Since that first awkward morning in the gym, the Australian U20s star fullback has added 5kg to his 194cm frame and more than halved his body fat, but he says he’s still got a long way to go.

“We’ve got a really good nutritionist down here in Melbourne so now I know what to eat, when to eat and how much. I still eat fairly normally but I’m a lot smarter about it and I try and eat a lot more snacks in between my meals, that’s probably been the main difference,” he said.

Maddocks turned his back on a promising cricket career and signed with the Rebels at the end of 2016 but missed large chunks of the 2017 Super Rugby season with a shoulder injury and then a broken arm.

While his young Rising side has won just one NRC match so far this year, Maddocks has been a standout in what otherwise has been a disappointing few weeks in Melbourne.

“We haven’t done as well as we would have liked to but we’re a very young squad and I think we’re all really benefiting from this experience,” he said.

“Matching up against the bigger guys week to week is tough but I think that’s where the NRC helps because we’re able to get more and more used to it and hopefully that will help in the years to come.”

With new coach Dave Wessels set to unveil a new look Melbourne Rebels squad for next season, Maddocks will compete with Wallabies wingers Reece Hodge and Marika Koroibete and a handful of new recruits for a spot in the Rebels back three.

But the 20-year old isn’t getting too far ahead of himself and says he’s happy to bide his time and learn from the players around him.

“I’m not too worried about where I play at the moment, I really just want to keep improving and get better every time I play and I think if I can do that, the opportunities will come,” he said

“The main thing I’ve learnt from Hodgy (Reece Hodge) is how super professional he is. I actually lived with him for a little bit and you really notice all the one percenters that he puts in.

“From stretching to his diet, it was a real eye opener because he’s switched on and looking after his body 24 hours a day and I guess that’s what it takes.”

The Rising have one last NRC game to play on Sunday in Melbourne against a NSW Country Eagles side playing to keep their season alive.

“They’re finishing the season really well and I know a lot of the side from when I was in Sydney, plus I used to be coached by Darren Coleman so it’s an easy game to get up for and hopefully we can get a result and finish our year on a high.”

The Rising take on the Eagles at Harlequin Oval on Sunday at 2:30pm.