Wallabies bolter ‘owes it to the garbos’
GARBOLOGY to Wallaby ... Brandon Paenga-Amosa is convinced swinging bins on the tough streets of inner Sydney built the hard inner edge for his stunning rise.
The transformation from anonymous club hooker at Sydney's Southern Districts to likely Test debutant against Ireland on June 9 has taken just 10 months.
Finding a home in the front row under Brad Thorn at the Queensland Reds has been the making of the 116kg forward who couldn't crack a spot at the NSW Waratahs or Melbourne Rebels.
The Bankstown boy was taught as a teenage garbo, working through Redfern and Waterloo, that you should make the most of every break when it does come.
"Being a garbo straight out of school with the 4am starts every morning taught me a lot about myself and to work hard for things in life," Paenga-Amosa, 22, said.
"You see some confronting things with unfortunate people using beer bottles for pillows between the bins.
"I learnt about life skills as well in those seven months (in 2013-14) and in those odd jobs as a labourer, a scaffolder and in landscaping as I started chasing after a dream in rugby.
"We were never on the same truck but it's funny that (fellow Wallabies hooker) Folau Faingaa was also a garbage man around the same time."
Empathy came through studying theology for two years so Paenga-Amosa landed at the Reds with life experience that many nursemaided "rugby academy" kids never get.
"I owe it to the garbos and Thorny pushing me as well," Paenga-Amosa said.
"Thorny loves the hard road."
You want to bottle attitude like his because Paenga-Amosa is also bringing a dose of raging bull to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night to revive the Reds.
He wants to rip into the Waratahs just like his childhood State of Origin idol Gorden Tallis to help end the Reds most feeble interstate streak-eight losses-since the early 1960s.
"I loved how Tallis played real tough and rough and I've followed Queensland in Origin ever since," said Paenga-Amosa, whose family left Auckland when he was four.
He might now see the value of buying a TV because he could not watch the exclusive team announcement on Fox Sports' Kick & Chase rugby show on Wednesday night.
"There's no TV at home so I was chilling at a Chinese restaurant," Paenga-Amosa said.
"I didn't know anything until I got a text 'You're in the squad' from Nela (Reds prop Taniela Tupou).
"I'm like 'w-h-a-a-t!'... I was buzzing."
Paenga-Amosa's impressive scrummaging against imposing Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx and the Lions pack in April was the moment Wallabies boss Michael Cheika zeroed in.
Australia's hooker against Ireland will be as raw as they come because Paenga-Amosa, Faingaa and two-Test rookie Jordan Uelese are all so new and untested.
Exciting prospects, yes. Motivated, you bet.
"Australia, my country, means everything to me, I'm true blue always," Paenga-Amosa said.
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