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‘I can’t lie…’: Why giant lock Miles Amatosero left Australian rugby as a teenager

By Finn Morton
Clermont's Australian lock Miles Amatosero (C) runs with the ball during the French Union Rugby match between ASM Clermont and RC Toulon at the Michelin stadium in Clermont-Ferrand, central France, on February 26, 2023. (Photo by THIERRY ZOCCOLAN / AFP) (Photo by THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/AFP via Getty Images)

NSW Waratahs recruit Miles Amatosero is the next big thing in Australian Super Rugby. The hulking lock is the tallest player at the Tahs, so ‘big’ certainly fits the bill in a literal sense, but there’s also plenty of interest surrounding his return to Australia’s shores.

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Amatosero, 21, played more than 30 matches for French Top 14 juggernauts ASM Clermont Auvergne over a few years, which included four Champions Cup matches.

But an opportunity to return home to Sydney proved too good to turn down. The young Australian has signed on with the Waratahs for the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

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But this is more than just a rugby story. This is what it means to be back home.

Following a lengthy stint in France, Amatosero was visibly thrilled to be back Down Under. You could see it in the way he lit up as he spoke – with such enthusiasm, excitement and eagerness.

It’s been a long time away from home – a long time living on the other side of the world. But to be back, in his own words: “If feels normal but in a good way, it’s almost hard to explain.”

Amatosero is a Sydney boy, after all. After graduating from the Eastern Suburbs’ Waverly College as a teenager, the rising star had an opportunity to sign with the Waratahs Academy.

But he said no. An opportunity to head to France won the prodigal talent over, with Amatosero saying au revoir to Australia after signing a deal with Clermont.

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“I can’t lie, it definitely was more appealing,” Amatosero told RugbyPass. “Just weighing up what I was faced with, it was like would you like to stay here and maybe get a few trainings in with the big dogs and you’d need to pick up a job and need to be doing things like that.

“Of course, I want to play here, that’s what I want to do, that’s what I know you need to do.

“I was looking around and then my agent just whispered in my ear and said, ‘Why don’t you just go try this over in France?’ I was like, ‘It’s so far away.’

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“I looked at it like a holiday. I went over and the way they have it set up over there, it just blew me out of the water.

“I was weighing the two offers up that I had and there it’s like a full contract, you get an apartment, you get all these bonuses and top-ups and things, and obviously as a 17-year-old, you love all that sort of stuff.

“But then again, it comes with a price. You’re living on the other side of the world away from everyone so that can be difficult but.

“In the short-term… when I was comparing the two, it was definitely better looking in France.”

It was a bold move – a brave move, even, for someone so young. But amongst all the excitement, there seemed to be almost a sense of sadness. That became clearer each and every time he’d return home on holiday.

Much like teenagers Roshi Butlin and Aiden Stait, who spoke with RugbyPass last year about their decisions to sign for French rugby academies, leaving family and friends in Australia was a tough decision that they had to make.

Amatosero prioritised his family during the multi-year stint abroad, but there were times when the second-rower thought living overseas, at that stage, wasn’t “really what I want.”

“Even when I was leaving (Australia), like throughout my whole time there, it just got harder and harder to go back,” Amatosero said. “I’d come back for holiday and each time going back over it just got harder and harder and harder to leave here.

“I knew from the start this isn’t going to be a place that I’m going to be for the rest of my life, I’m not going to be living here for the rest of my life.

“I know I want to keep playing footy but right now I’m living in France and it’s not really what I want at the moment so how am I going to make it work? The obvious choice is to come back home.

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“There were a lot of things that were having to keep me in France like financially wise. I was making a big sacrifice with my family and myself but it wouldn’t have been a bigger sacrifice than actually coming back here and not being able to support them fully. That’s the reason I went over. It was definitely keeping me there.

“I started playing some good footy and I’m lucky enough to come back home.”

But without any hesitation, Amatosero agreed that he’s “definitely” a better player now than he would’ve been if he’d stayed in Australia and pursued the academy route.

Amatosero debuted for Clermont against Ma’a Nonu’s Toulon and continued to grow as a player during some valuable exposure to senior rugby – whether that be at training or on the field of play.

“I think like position specific, tighthead lock, like if you’re in that tight five I genuinely do think that the programming and the resources that they have, and just the passion that they’ve got towards the set-piece… from pretty much when I got there to when I left, it was just drilling it into me,” he added.

“It makes you love it, like it actually made me love set-piece, love scrums, love mauls, and as a tight five, that’s exactly what you want.

“I feel like you’re forced to love it (in Australia) but there you actually love it. You love it because everyone around you loves it, the crowd loves it, the fans love it.”

But life has come full circle for young Miles Amatosero. After turning down an opportunity to sign with the Waratahs Academy, the second-rower is back wearing sky blue ahead of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

“It’s been awesome. Seriously like, I think leading into it I had a lot of expectations with being back home (after) being away for so long.”

“It’s been so much better and more just being home just feels right, it feels normal – it feels normal but in a good way, it’s almost hard to explain.

“Comfortable but I don’t want to stay comfortable. I’m trying to achieve more and do more and more every day but it’s definitely a lot easier to play good footy.”

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2 Comments
s
swivel 129 days ago

I hope he’s got good smarts and can use sone of that rugby knowledge in a Super rugby environment. Otherwise he might just be exchanging one live for another

A
Ardy 130 days ago

Great to have him back and hope the Tahs have a good season this year.

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