Wallabies hooker heading to France after Reds' farewell

Mon, 31/05/2021, 10:40 pm
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
The Reds host the Chiefs in the first Super Rugby match in Townsville since 2006.

WALLABIES hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa will make an emotional farewell to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night after revealing he has signed a two-year deal with French club Montpellier. 

The popular Paenga-Amosa's final home game for the Queensland Reds will have special significance against the Auckland-based Blues.

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“I was born in Auckland and grew up going for the Blues. I had a couple of Blues’ jerseys as a boy so this is a game I really want to play well in and get the win for Queensland,” Paenga-Amosa said.

Wallabies boss Dave Rennie showed his liking for the BPA package of hustle, nous around the ball and scrum strength by picking him as starting hooker in five Tests last season.

Rugby’s favourite ex-garbo will be a loss for Australian rugby because, at, 25, he should be approaching his peak years as a hardened hooker after four seasons of professional rugby.

“It’s going to be hard to leave this place. I love Queensland and I love representing the Queensland jersey,” Paenga-Amosa said.   

“I’m waiting to know if the Wallabies want me as part of the Test program. If so I would stay, for sure, until December when my contract finishes.”

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Paenga-Amosa, a six-month husband to bride Rina, said he’d made the call to head to France for family reasons and it’s in his plans to return.

“Essentially, it came down to wanting to set up my family financially for the future,” Paenga-Amosa said.

“I’m not big on going overseas at the end of my career after I turn 30.

“For me, it’s more going over now, enjoying the travel when we’re young and coming back to settle down with kids later on. Rina will keep BPA in check.

“Definitely, I want to come back. I want to retire in Australia.”

You can now understand all the emotion that poured out of Paenga-Amosa when the Reds won the Super Rugby AU title in dramatic style.

“Winning that title was everything. The dream would have been to win both but I still want to finish off the year strongly and hopefully the Wallabies want me,” he said.

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Paenga-Amosa said the 33-3 first half to the Reds’ 40-34 win over the Chiefs in Townsville last weekend was pure adrenalin for the team.

“The biggest thing was, we played our game plan, played our structures, because doing what we planned to do was the first time for a while,” he said.

“We nailed all our individual jobs. We all stood up together and we’re keen for the challenge the Blues will bring to Suncorp.”

Paenga-Amosa and halfback Moses Sorovi, from Yam Island in the Torres Strait, said they were proud to be wearing the Reds’ Indigenous jersey in this match.

On Monday, as the Queensland Rugby Union’s Indigenous Program Ambassadors, they attended the “Deadly Threads” exhibition at the State Library of Queensland where the previous nine Reds’ Indigenous jerseys were on display.

“For me, I grew up in Gadigal land in Sydney and was always a big advocate for representing the Indigenous,” Paenga-Amosa said.

“It’s the connection. I love playing for the people I’m representing and it means a lot to me to represent First Nations’ people.

“It’s not just about rugby. Our Future Indigenous Leaders Program in Queensland is about seeing Indigenous youngsters rise, actually brown kids in general rise, and not being part of the stereotype.”

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Since the Future Indigenous Leaders Program (FLIP) was born in 2013, it has helped prepared young people for trades, university courses and leadership in their communities.  

The FLIP is a program run by the QRU in partnership with Rio Tinto in the communities of Cherbourg and Woorabinda where students in Years 6-10 with leadership potential are offered mentoring and support. 

FLIP student Delphine Cecil designed this year’s Reds’ Indigenous jersey. She drew on memories of the stars and Australian countryside to maintain her strong connection to her home town when she moved from Woorabinda to boarding school in Yeppoon. 

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