ACT Brumbies recruit Folau Faingaa called into Wallabies Bledisloe Cup squad
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ACT Brumbies recruit Folau Faingaa called into Wallabies Bledisloe Cup squad

Folau Faingaa was speechless when Wallabies coach Michael Cheika called to invite him the Canberra Vikings hooker into Bledisloe Cup camp.

It's a well told story most unexpected Wallabies selections think their teammates are playing a prank when an unknown number calls and tells them they've been picked.

Canberra Vikings hooker Folau Faingaa.

Canberra Vikings hooker Folau Faingaa.Credit:Karleen Minney

Faingaa is yet to make his Super Rugby debut, so it's understandable the ACT Brumbies recruit was cagey when his phone started buzzing with an unknown number.

But Faingaa's story has a twist after Cheika called. Instead of laughing and hanging up, there was silence.

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Faingaa didn't say anything. Neither did Cheika. Faingaa was waiting for the caller to identify himself first to see who was on the other end.

After a few seconds of confusion and checking the call was actually connected, Cheika broke first.

"Then he said: 'Hello? Is Folau there?' I said it was me and he said who it was, but I still thought it was a joke," Folau said.

"He said, 'mate, I like the way you've been playing do you want to come to training?.

"I've heard Cheika talk before and I realised it was his voice. So then it hit me it was actually him on the other end of the phone."

Faingaa will join the Wallabies at training next week despite being at the start of his professional rugby journey.

His name (he has no connections to Israel Folau or the Faingaa brothers) suggests he's tailormade for international rugby.

But the former Australian under-20s rake was working as a concreter in Sydney just two months ago before signing a deal to join the Brumbies.

Cheika has called Faingaa into the squad as part of a fact-finding mission as he starts putting plans in place to replace former Test skipper Stephen Moore, who is retiring from international rugby.

"We've seen a few younger guys we like. Folau Faingaa is a guy we would love to have a closer look at from what he's done in NRC," Cheika said.

"He's gone down to the Vikings and done quite well. We've also got our eye on [Anaru] Rangi out of Perth. He's been a standout for me.

"There's some younger guys on the scene we'll be looking to blood. Whether we decide to take an extra one on the tour as we did last year for development we'll see in the next few weeks."

Cheika is also looking at Brumbies and Vikings scrum guru Dan Palmer as a potential replacement for the outgoing Mario Ledesma.

Palmer is committed to his study at ANU and his Brumbies duties, but it's believed he's open to the idea of helping the Wallabies if needed.

That could come as early as the spring tour with Ledesma set to move back to Argentina after the Bledisloe Cup clash in Brisbane next weekend.

Faingaa will start for the Vikings in their National Rugby Championship clash against the Sydney Rays at Viking Park on Sunday.

The 22-year-old will battle with Josh Mann-Rea and Robbie Abel just to get Super Rugby game time next year. But before Brumbies pre-season training starts, he's got a chance to rub shoulders with Australia's best.

"To be in a Wallabies camp ... it's definitely been a crazy couple of months," Faingaa said.

"I definitely didn't expect this. In my head I just had a job for the Vikings and then to start prepping for Brumbies to push Robbie and [Mann-Rea] to try to get a look in for Super Rugby.

"I definitely wasn't look at Wallabies and I am nervous. I think I'm a better player after moving to Canberra. The move was a challenge, but I feel like I'm picking my game up."

NATIONAL RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND SEVEN

Sunday: Canberra Vikings v Sydney Rays at Viking Park, 2.30pm. Tickets available at the gate.

Canberra Vikings: 1. Faalelei Sione 2. Folau Faingaa 3. Les Leuluaialii-Makin 4. Rory Arnold 5. Sam Carter 6. Blake Enever 7. Tom Cusack (c) 8. Rob Valetini 9. Joe Powell 10. Wharenui Hawera 11. Andrew Muirhead 12. James Dargaville 13. Len Ikitau 14. Henry Speight 15. Tom Banks. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel 17. Harry Lloyd 18. Max Bode 19. Dean Oakman-Hunt 20. Angus Allen 21. Ryan Lonergan 22. Mack Hansen 23. Lausii Taliauli.

WALLABIES SQUAD

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Forwards

Jermaine Ainsley*, Western Force
Allan Alaalatoa, 16 Tests, Brumbies
Rory Arnold, 15 Tests, Brumbies
Adam Coleman, 15 Tests, Western Force
Jack Dempsey, 3 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
Folau Faingaa*, ACT Brumbies
Ned Hanigan, 7 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Michael Hooper (c), 72 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Sekope Kepu, 84 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Adam Korcyzk*, Queensland Reds
Sean McMahon, 19 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
Stephen Moore, 122 Tests, Queensland Reds
Tatafu Polota-Nau, 75 Tests, Western Force
Tom Robertson, 13 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Izack Rodda, 2 Tests, Queensland Reds
Rob Simmons, 75 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Scott Sio, 36 Tests, Brumbies
Lopeti Timani, 9 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
Lukhan Tui*, Queensland Reds
Jordan Uelese, 2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels

Backs
Kurtley Beale, 64 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Israel Folau, 59 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Bernard Foley (vc), 49 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Will Genia (vc), 82 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
Reece Hodge, 17 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
Karmichael Hunt, 3 Tests, Queensland Reds
Samu Kerevi, 11 Tests, Queensland Reds
Marika Koroibete, 1 Test, Melbourne Rebels
Tevita Kuridrani, 51 Tests, Brumbies
Billy Meakes*, Western Force
Duncan Paia'aua*, Queenslands Reds
Izaia Perese*, Queensland Reds
Nick Phipps, 55 Tests, NSW Waratahs
Joe Powell, 2 Tests, Brumbies
Curtis Rona, 2 Tests, Western Force
Henry Speight, 16 Tests, Brumbies