Wallabies star’s message to Gympie kids: ‘Chase your dreams’
RUGBY UNION: Wallabies and Queensland Reds forward Brandon Paenga-Amosa shared tales of his inspiring rise to sporting stardom during a visit to the Gympie region yesterday.
The hulking, 117kg New Zealand-born Australian representative was one of two Reds to hit the Gold City as part of Queensland Rugby Union’s “Reds to Region” tour, joining teammate Bryce Hegarty for a first-up chat with Widgee Rural Firefighters.
From there the pair split to meet with students at Chatsworth, Monkland, Gympie East and Gympie South, taking questions and sharing stories about their journeys to the pinnacle of the sport.
Paenga-Amosa, who has four international Tests under his belt and extended his Reds contract until 2022 in August, said he was excited to embrace Gympie as one of the communities he represents on the field.
“Being from Sydney and actually coming up to Queensland and playing, I love being out here in Gympie and all the regional towns we visit, it gives me so much more to play for now,” Paenga-Amosa said.
“I’m playing for more than just my family now, I’m playing for my extended family, playing for people in Gympie and all over the state.
“Being here and meeting people, it’s like I’ve got family everywhere now, especially in a state I haven’t had too much to do with growing up. It means everything to me.
“My favourite thing is to put a smile on the dial for all the kids we visit. That’s my heart, the next generation. If I can do that then I’m doing my job.”
The 23-year-old said his goal in talking with the kids was to instil confidence and self-belief in them.
“It reminded me of being a student myself. What I was trying to stress was that I was once in their shoes, and here I am 10 years later, living my dream,” he said.
Gympie Hammers president Jason McPherson said the Reds tour was a milestone for the region, beyond the rugby realm.
“We’ve always known we’ve had Queensland Reds rugby and these guys have always been playing in Brisbane, but what (Reds coach) Brad Thorn’s influenced here is he wanted these players to get out and see who they’re actually playing for,” McPherson said.
“They’re taking a Gympie Hammers jersey back to put up in their dressing shed, and each week when they have a home game that’s who these players will be playing for.
“We never could have dreamed of this five years ago. It’s a massive contribution for them, and massive for us to have this opportunity with an Australian rugby player.”
Paenga-Amosa and Hegarty continued on to Albert Park for a meet and greet with Gympie players yesterday afternoon.