Former Wallabies hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa says the pitched battle he and Alex Mafi will wage for the Reds’ no.2 jersey will propel both men closer to a gold jersey.
Paenga-Amosa lost his Reds starting jersey to Mafi last season, with the latter’s rise earning him a spot in the extended Wallabies training squad ahead of the World Cup.
Rather than resent Mafi though, Paenga-Amosa believes the pair bing out the best in each other, with their friendly rivalry a boost for the Reds and a sign of the competition and depth that now exists in the Queensland squad.
“Me and Alex both bring the best out of each other,” Paenga-Amosa said.
"When he's training hard, I'm training hard; when I'm training hard, he's training hard.
"But I think he best thing about it is we're learning so much from each other and we're actually good mates as well.
"We hang out a bit, we chat a bit. When I stuff up he tells me, when he stuffs up, I pull him up and say, ‘try this’.”
“We're in it to back each other. We're always encouraging each other.”
The pair have their own style of play, something that benefits each player and the Reds, who have adopted the modern rugby mantra that “finishers” are as important as the 15 players that start the match.
"We try and play our own game and it's for the team in the end.”
It’s the right things to say, of course, but Paenga-Amosa said the team-first ethos was driving the Reds, who believe they are on the cusp of a revival.
“We've got a really young team and boys are actually learning that from the get-go, that (if someone plays) the same position as you, it doesn't matter here.
"We're not here to try and look good in front of the coaches, we're here to play a game and if one game, this guy starts and then the next game, you start, it's all about the squad in the end and that's what we're getting here at Queensland.”
The 23-year-old has hit the ground running this pre-season after an impressive NRC campaign with Brisbane City where his strong scrummaging and control in the rolling maul helped push the side into the semi-finals.
Aside from the joy of competing with that young side, his campaign was waged very much with the Super Rugby season in mind, as he, and his City and Queensland Country teammates ensured they would be ready to attack a gruelling pre-season.
"The Reds are here to play, we're not here to just much around or just miss out, we're here to go for it,” he said.
"There's something definitely stirring here at the Reds and I can't wait to kick off against the Brumbies next year.”