Wallabies star opens up on his 'hard decision' to leave Australia to replace Springboks great in French Top 14
Starting French language lessons have made it tough for Brandon Paenga-Amosa not to focus on his impending Australian rugby departure.
But the Queensland Reds and Wallabies hooker is doing his best to shelve those thoughts and ensure he’s smiling when he does board a plane ahead of a rich two-season deal with Montpellier later this year.
The No.2 will return from a pinched nerve in his neck to play the Brumbies on Saturday, with each club to wear specially-designed uniforms for the code’s inaugural First Nations Round.
Last season, two years after his shock Wallabies debut against Ireland, Paenga-Amosa shot back into the test fray by spearheading the Reds’ charge to the domestic grand final.
They lost that decider to the Brumbies but expectations have heightened under Brad Thorn at Ballymore this year.
Paenga-Amosa is determined to share in the spoils before departing to replace retiring former Springbok great Bismarck du Plessis at Montpellier next season.
“My wife and I are doing French class and we are excited; we do catch ourselves talking about it a bit,” Paenga-Amosa told AAP.
“But the biggest thing is not to think about it yet – push it down, push it down because I want to win a competition, I want to be on a flight to France smiling.
“I didn’t come into the Reds as early as some of the boys who went to school here, kind of came in from the side, but I’ve loved it and it’s exciting to see what’s stirring here at the Reds.”
The move would likely see him overlooked for tests later this year and stall his 2023 World Cup ambitions, but the 25-year-old is confident he can impress from afar and potentially return to Australian rugby in time to still feature.
And after earning a living as a Sydney garbage man before his move north, he said it was an option he couldn’t turn down.
“It was a hard decision and it’s a sad situation,” he told AAP of the constant drain of talent heading to lucrative foreign markets.
“But the nature of it is that a lot of rugby players were tradies and there’s a few other garbos I know; we came from hard yakka so to get an opportunity like this you can’t say no.
“For my wife and I it was about generational wealth; we want to set up our family’s future first and eventually come back here to Australia and finish off and if that’s at the Reds then even better.
“If I play some good footy there’s nothing stopping me from coming back and I’ll back myself to learn a lot from playing French rugby.”
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