We’re back again with this week’s best interviews with players ahead of Round Five of Super Rugby, and as this is brought to you by RUPA’s Official Wine Partner, Taylors Wines, we’ve even got a great wine tip from the experts themselves at the bottom of the article.
We must wait until Saturday this week to see an Australian team in action for the first time, when the Brumbies host the Sharks in their first home game of the season at 7:45pm (AEDT).
From there, we’re off to Argentina on Sunday morning at 8:40am as the Reds take on the Jaguares in their quest for three wins in the row, before the round concludes with a massive derby between the Waratahs and Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon (4:05pm).
Click here for full list of Round Five Super Rugby fixtures.
1. Big Bustling Brandon loving Big Bustling Brad
One of the surprise packets of the 2018 Super Rugby season thus far has been Brandon Paenga-Amosa, the rookie Reds hooker has starting every game thus far in his maiden Super Rugby campaign.
“I’m loving Super Rugby. It’s such an honour and a privilege to play with and against the best players in the world and it’s challenging me to become a better player,” he said. “It’s pushing me to work harder, train harder and get all the one percenters right."
A product of Southern Districts Rugby Club in Sydney's Shute Shield, Paenga-Amos was training in Melbourne before he got the call to re-locate to Brisbane.
“I was in and out of the 'Tahs system throughout juniors and then I ended up heading down to the Rebels to join them on a short term contract. While I was down there, Brad Thorn gave me a call and asked if I wanted to come up to Brisbane and I said I’d love to and I took the opportunity and ran with it.
“As soon as I spoke to Brad, I jumped in my car and drove from Melbourne to Brisbane, with a quick stop in Sydney and I haven’t looked back since.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to come up here but I just wanted to do my best and push myself to be as good as I can be. Having Alex Mafi and Andrew Ready around is great because it pushes me to be better and work harder.”
Click here to listen to read Sam Ryan's story on Rugby News.
2. Fainga'a makes the transition from concreting to starting
Seven months ago Folau Fainga'a was concreting in Sydney's sweltering heat as his rugby career hung in limbo. On Saturday the ACT Brumbies hooker will make his Super Rugby run-on debut and pack down between Wallabies props Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa.
It's a fairytale the 22-year-old can hardly believe himself. Fainga'a asked the club for 26 tickets on Wednesday, with a bus load of family and friends making the trip from Sydney to watch him face the Sharks at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.
"Last year I was laying cables between concrete slabs. I couldn't imagine myself in a spot like this now, let alone even being part of a Super Rugby franchise," Fainga'a said. "I questioned myself a lot last year and was asking myself if I was doing the small things right outside of rugby and making the right personal choices.
"I got pretty heavy so I cleaned up my diet and cut back the fast food and alcohol and just started putting my head towards what I really wanted to do with my rugby. Now I'm here I just want to make the most of it.
"It was sleepless nights before my debut last week and I think it'll be the same again this week. It's pretty crazy, I used to watch all these blokes [on television] and now I get the chance to pack down and run out on the field with them."
Click here to read Eamonn Tiernan's story in the Canberra Times.
3. Reds fans seeing double at scrum time
Scrum-loving Reds coach Brad Thorn recently decided there was only one thing better than one Smith dominating at prop; having a second doing the same. After signing JP at the start of the season, the opportunity arose for twin brother Ruan to exit the Sunwolves to be back in Queensland closer to family and to also sign for the Reds.
"One hundred per cent we didn’t think we’d realise that dream, not when I was at the Stormers and Ruan was at the Brumbies (in 2016),” JP said. "It’s come true and it’s very emotional not just for us but our family. Mum and Dad have been Reds members since 2006 and every year they take the same seats to watch the games.”
Not that the signing didn't confuse a few of their teammates...
“A few boys, especially Lukhan Tui, couldn’t work out how they were greeting me on one side of the gym and saying hello to me on the other side as well,” JP said with a laugh.
Both boys are in Argentina this week and in contention to be named in the Reds' 23 to face the Jaguares, a daunting prospect at scrum time.
Click here to read Jim Tucker's full story in the Courier Mail.
4. Tom ready for first Melbourne-Sydney derby
When it comes to local derbies, lock Tom Staniforth describes these in one word.
“Massive! It’s no secret they (Melbourne Rebels) are in good form and it’s our job to stop that form and put them to the sword. It’s going to be a tough challenge,” Staniforth said.
“They are a very good side but in saying that, with challenges come the awesome opportunity to take them on. It’s what we play the game for: it’s for those games where it’s a rivalry and a contest.”
Click here to read the full story from the Waratahs website.
5. Izzy living the high-flying life
He's widely regarded as the most dangerous man to have on the end of a cross-field kick in Australian Rugby, and after soaring high over Rebels' fullback Dane Haylett-Petty to score a try in a pre-season trial in Manly last month Israel Folau is keen to do it again this Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
“Me personally, in a game situation, I am always looking forward and am always ready for those opportunities,” Folau said. “We speak about it a whole lot, with obviously the playmakers in the team who execute or who are in a position to put those cross kicks over.
“But yeah, I know it is a strength of mine and hopefully (we will be) using that a lot more when the opportunity presents itself in a game.
“You have to manipulate the defence and put the questions back on them, with kicks and all those little things. Certainly make them think twice about their lines speed. The playmakers ... in the team certainly know they have that in their back pocket. It is a matter of making the right decision on the run and executing that skill.”
Folau also speaks up the battle of the forwards, as the 'Tahs look to hit back from last week's disappointing showing against the Jaguares.
Click here to read the Iain Payten's story in the Daily Telegraph.
And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week we’re talking aroma…
Our sense of taste is derived not only from the mouth, but the nose; in fact, 90% of what we call taste is really from our sense of smell!
The aroma of a wine can thereby provide vital insights into such things as the grape varietal it was sourced from, its ripeness, the soil and climate conditions the vines experienced and any winemaker influence on the wine, such as oak maturation.
To release the flavours and aromas, swirl the wine in the glass and get some air into the wine. The more it is aerated, the more the aroma will be revealed. Then place your nose right into the rim of the glass and inhale deeply. While pleasant aroma doesn’t always guarantee a great tasting wine, and vice versa, it can give you a few clues as to what to expect.