Family pride driving Fainga'a

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

When Wallabies hooker Folau Fainga’a plays rugby, his mind wanders to three women gathered around a television in Sydney’s west.

Those three women are three generations of his family, the eldest being his 94-year-old great grandmother Palolo, who is overcome with emotion at his rapid success.

Palolo breaks into tears when she sees the 23-year-old in action on TV and his family watches all of his games together.

Though she might not be awake to watch him this weekend, Fainga’a said Palolo would be in the back of his mind.

“Obviously my family back home is my motivation,” he said.

“I've got a great-grandmother still alive, she’s always crying every time she sees me on television.

“She just sees my face and she just bawls out crying and even when I FaceTime her, it's the same thing.

“They're my motivation for the Spring Tour.”

This tour caps off a remarkable year for Fainga’a, who was signed to an extended performance squad contract with the Brumbies this time last year.

Since then, he has made his Super Rugby and Wallabies debut and become one of the rising stars in Australian rugby.

Fainga’a said coming into the Test arena had taught him plenty in a whirlwind year.

“It’s very different to a normal Super Rugby game and how you prep.

“Games are a lot faster and there’s a bit more oomph, that's what I've learned so far.”

His development has come quicker than expected but Brumbies and Wallabies teammate David Pocock that progression is a by-product of his thirst to learn.

“I was very impressed with his growth and his form through the Brumbies season, (where he) obviously earned the opportunity here (in Wallabies camp) and step up how he has,” he said.

“There's plenty to learn and I guess he's shown just how much he wanted to learn and we're starting to see that in his game.

“The young hookers we've got coming through can be around for a long time, it's very exciting.”

The Wallabies take on Wales on Saturday November 10 in Cardiff, kicking off at 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sport and SBS.