Hole in heart almost spelled end for Paenga-Amosa

Just 10 months ago, Brandon Paenga-Amosa was told he may never play rugby again.

Having suffered six blackouts throughout the Shute Shield season while plying his trade for Southern Districts, Paenga-Amosa sought medical advice before taking to the field with the NSW Country Eagles in the NRC.

The initial prognosis was grim.

Paenga-Amosa was immediately sent for scans to decipher whether he had a hole in his heart.

If confirmed, it would have spelled the end of his playing career.Paenga-Amosa will make his Wallabies debut on Saturday night. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"I got really emotional one night when the doc said there was potential there that I might not ever play again," Paenga-Amosa told RUGBY.com.au.

"You don't usually here those things until you're 30 or 40 hey so I was like damn...

"But thank God - I got my scans, I was all cleared - that was a blessing."

The cause of the blackouts were far less sinister than first feared, with some video reviews of the incidents causing the blackouts revealing poor technique at the breakdown.

"I just keep putting my head in the wrong position," he said.

"I was putting my head in the wrong spot and someone's shoulder would come in, clean me out and collide with my neck."

A breakout season with both NSW Country and the Reds have led the rookie hooker to Saturday's night's showdown with Ireland, where he will make his Test debut.


His reaction, when hearing coach Michael Cheika call his name when the team was revealed on Tuesday night, was priceless.

"I looked down at the ground and I was like 'holy snap, I'm actually getting the honour to represent this country'," Paenga-Amosa said.

"It hit me. It was overwhelming at first and a bit emotional and then I called my family.

"We all started tearing up on the phone, it was a special moment.

"Far out, it got me in the feels, in the heart. I was like, oh man, this is crazy."

From fearing he may never play again to earning the nod as the Wallabies' starting hooker, it's been quite the journey for the exuberant 22-year-old.

"It's been a crazy journey," he said.

"I've had a lot of setbacks but I'm happy it's all happened because it made me the man I am today."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in a three-Test series kicking off at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday June 9, at 8:05pm AEST. Buy tickets here.