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The story of how Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Faingaa went from slaving away together as garbage men in Sydney to being on the cusp of making their Wallabies debuts this weekend started in an Armidale pub last September.
Paenga-Amosa and Faingaa had known each other for years, having packed down in scrums against one another at school and Shute Shield level. Credit: Stuart Walmsley. The young hookers, both without Super Rugby contracts and unsure whether they were really cut out for professional rugby, were subjected to 4am wake-ups every day to earn a living as garbage collectors.
They worked for the same company, dreaming of being able to pick up and drop opposition players like they did the wheelie bins, day after day, in southern Sydney. Faingaa resented it, the whiff of everyone's trash a sharp reminder that this wasn't where he wanted to be. However, when you ask the year-old about the other random labouring jobs he and Faingaa tried their hand at during their younger years, it's pretty clear he'd prefer a football and a couple of angry defenders any day of the week.
That sucked. I pulled my back out here and there and then had to go to rugby training with a sore back. Excited: Brandon Paenga-Amosa at Wallabies training. I grabbed him at the same time and said we need to go hard next year because something might come up. Things got even more real when the only other hooker in the squad, Jordan Uelese, went down with an ACL injury on the Saturday before Test week. Put two and two together and Australia will more than likely have a couple of new No.
I actually watched that same movie, Blended, a couple of nights ago but now I had just finished Wallabies training. It was pretty surreal. The pub chat that propelled hookers from garbage men to the Wallabies.