He may have played four tests for the Wallabies, but Australian hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa hasn’t forgotten his Kiwi roots.
For that reason, you could excuse him for relishing the prospect of coming up against the All Blacks in under a fortnight’s time.
With the opening Bledisloe Cup test set to take place in Wellington on October 11, Paenga-Amosa says excitement is brimming within the youthful Wallabies camp as they remain in a Christchurch quarantine facility.
“We’ve got a lot of young players, which is good to see,” Paenga-Amosa said. “It’s good to see Dave [head coach Rennie] and the coaching staff backing a lot of young boys to put on the jersey.
“There’s a lot of jerseys up for grabs, so, definitely, there is a very positive environment, and also a very competitive environment as well, and that’s what pushes everyone in the team, I’d say, to train that extra bit better and get that extra more out of each other.”
That competitive edge will be evident on Tuesday when Rennie’s squad resumes training in small groups after completing a mandatory three-day self-isolation period.
It would be safe to assume the Wallabies’ set piece will be at the forefront of those upcoming training sessions, with newly-appointed assistant coach Geoff Parling acknowledging work needs to be done there before the first test of the year.
“We’ve only been together [for] four days of actual training so far, so the first bit’s just been getting our basics and our principles right,” the former England and British and Irish Lions lock said.
“I’m implementing a new system that lads have got to get up to speed with, and the expectation going into this week is there will be a bit of pressure to start executing and get things right.
“I’d appreciate during the season, probably some of the standards weren’t where we wanted them to be, but on the flip side you could probably say some of the defensive work was excellent, so it works both ways, but the group so far as I’m concerned have been brilliant.
“Very engaged, very impressed with a lot of guys there, a good mix of some experience and some youth, but the whole group seems very hungry and keen to get stuck in.”
Among those to struggle at the lineout throughout Super Rugby AU was Paenga-Amosa, who was part of a faulty Reds forward pack that stuttered at the set piece on the way to a grand final defeat against the Brumbies earlier this month.
However, the 24-year-old was affirmative in his belief of the new system that Parling has brought with him from the Melbourne Rebels.
“I think, honestly, for the Reds, it came back to our system. It was many different things, it was many different things that contributed to our lineout success and also our lineout failure,” Paenga-Amosa said.
“Coming in here, I’m excited. It’s a very different structure to what I’m used to, but I’m excited to jump onboard with it and I know the boys are taking it all in. It’s definitely exciting for each and every one of us.”
He added: “I back our system here at the Wallabies. I back our lineout. I’m definitely onboard with it and hopefully we can continue to get higher numbers and higher reps at training to succeed when it comes to the game.”
Hoping his side’s lineout will be firing and ready to go come October 11, there is plenty more on the line for Paenga-Amosa than just being part of a new-look, well-drilled forward pack.
Born in Auckland, he conceded his ties to New Zealand remain strong, labelling himself a “Kiwi at heart”.
It’s no surprise, then, to see him consider playing the All Blacks, something he hasn’t done since making his international debut four years ago, as something that “would mean everything”.
“If I get the chance, it’d be awesome. It’d be huge for me, personally,” Paenga-Amosa said.
“Being Kiwi at heart, Kiwi-born, it would mean everything to me to face the haka if I get the opportunity.
“I know for sure that the vibe in the camp is real positive and the boys are excited to face the ABs, face the haka and to give it all.”
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