New Wallaby Brandon Paenga-Amosa has taken an unconventional path to national selection.
The 22-year-old has gone from strength to strength in his fledgling career, from an anonymous club hooker in Sydney to a potential Test debutant against Ireland on June 9 in a whirlwind 10 months.
The New Zealand-born hooker credits his time as a teenage garbage man for giving him life skills and teaching him to make the most of his opportunities.
“Being a garbo straight out of school with the 4am starts every morning taught me a lot about myself and to work hard for things in life,” Paenga-Amosa told Fox Sports.
“You see some confronting things with unfortunate people using beer bottles for pillows between the bins.
“I learnt about life skills as well in those seven months (in 2013-14) and in those odd jobs as a labourer, a scaffolder and in landscaping as I started chasing after a dream in rugby.
“We were never on the same truck but it’s funny that (fellow Wallabies hooker) Folau Faingaa was also a garbage man around the same time.”
Paenga-Amosa has found a home this season under Brad Thorn with the Queensland Reds.
“I owe it to the garbos and Thorny pushing me as well,” Paenga-Amosa said.
“Thorny loves the hard road.”
Paenga-Amosa was shocked when he found out he was named in Michael Cheika’s 32-man squad for the Wallabies’ June series against Ireland.
“There’s no TV at home so I was chilling at a Chinese restaurant,” Paenga-Amosa explained.
“I didn’t know anything until I got a text ‘You’re in the squad’ from Nela [Reds and Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou].
“I’m like ‘what!’… I was buzzing.”
Paenga-Amosa is one third of a young hooker crop for the Wallabies, joining uncapped Folau Fainga’a and two-Test rookie Jordan Uelese in the squad.
The Wallabies will play the first of their three Tests against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium on June 9.
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