Paenga-Amosa trades high vis for Wallabies kit

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

From garbage man to theology student, Brandon Paenga-Amosa has worn many hats en route to a potential Wallabies debut.

Paenga-Amosa was named as one of five fresh faces in the June Wallabies squad on Wednesday night and it's been quite the journey to this point.

The Auckland born, Bankstown raised hooker was plying his trade for Southern Districts in Sydney's Shute Shield this time last year.

Last night, he was sitting in a Chinese restaurant in Sunnybank when he was named in the Wallabies squad.

"I got a text from (Taniela Tupou) and he just said congratulations bro, you're in the squad," Paenga-Amosa said.

"It means the world for me.

Paenga-Amosa has starred for the Reds this season. Photo: Getty Images"It's been a long journey, there have been a lot of setbacks but it's a true honour to represent this country, Australia, my country.

"To put on that green and gold jersey would mean the world to me."

Paenga-Amosa started his post school life working on the back of garbage trucks for eight months and as he left, fellow Wallabies hooker Folau Faingaa walked through the door.

A stint as a theology student followed, with odd jobs as a labourer, scaffolder and landscaper all supplementing his rugby prior to his first crack at the big time - a stint with the Rams in NRC.

A stellar season with NSW Country's NRC outfit was where he really emerged and after briefly training with the Rebels, the lure of Brad Thorn brought the 22-year-old north.

"Thorny has done a lot for me," Paenga-Amosa said.

"He's really helped me just get better at my position.

"Better at being a hooker, better at working on things I'm not so good at.

"He's really pushed me to be better and better."

Paenga-Amosa now a leading contender to line up against Ireland on June 9, a dream debut well within reach.

He appears ready made to flourish on rugby's biggest stage as his game is largely built on a huge work ethic around the park.

If a tackle needs to be made or his side needs to crash over the gain line, Paenga-Amosa is always the first to put his hand up.

That head down, bum up attitude is something the rookie credits to the cold, long days as a garbo, long before a Wallabies debut was on the radar.Paenga-Amosa earned his first crack at pro rugby with the Rams. Photo: Getty Images"It's helped me work hard for things in life and it's really taught me to humble myself throughout my life," Paenga-Amosa said.

"Being a garbo, the early starts - you're up at 4am every morning and getting home late.

"It really taught me a lot of life skills."

On a local front, the Reds will be hoping Paenga-Amosa is at his best on Saturday night, with the Waratahs in red hot form.

It's a clash which always provokes memories of historic Queensland-NSW showdowns and as a childhood Queensland fan living in enemy territory, Paenga-Amosa is chomping at the bit to make his mark.

"To be honest, I've always gone for Queensland, even when I was living in NSW," he said.

"I can't wait till Saturday night.

"It's going to be a great game with the history and all of that behind it - I can't wait."

The Reds face the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and radio. Buy tickets here.

The Wallabies take on Ireland in the June Series, kicking off on Saturday June 9 at Suncorp Stadium, at 8pm AEST. Buy tickets here.