Saia Mervyn Fainga'a
- 840Wallaby Number
The elder of the Queanbeyan-born, Tongan and Aboriginal twins, dreadlocked Saia beat his brother Anthony into the world by five minutes and into an international rugby career by five Tests. The boys proved inseparable as they attended St. Edmund’s College in Canberra where both played 1st XV rugby, were selected in the Australian Schools team of 2004, and in the Saia-captained World Championship-winning Australian U19s in 2006.
Saia signed his first Super Rugby contract with the ACT Brumbies in 2006 but the boys upped and left the nation’s capital for the Queensland Reds in 2009, lured north by their former national U19s mentor and then Reds’ coach Phil Mooney.
After Saia nailed down the starting No. 2 jumper for the 2010 Super Rugby season he was rewarded with a Test debut, against Fiji in Canberra. When Saia and Anthony first started alongside each other in a Test - the 10-20, 2nd Test loss to New Zealand in Christchurch - the twins were two of a record four Indigenous players who featured in the Wallaby match day 23. Saia featured strongly for the Reds in their maiden Super Rugby title in 2011 before he went on to win a place in the Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup squad. Saia Fainga’a played 36 Tests for Australia in a five-year international career.
Represented Australian Schools against Tongan Schools, Fijian Schools and New Zealand Schools.
Represented Australian Schools against Ireland Schools, Samoan Schools and New Zealand Schools.
Captained Australia to victory at the third-annual IRB U19s Junior World Championship title in the United Arab Emirates. Selected in the Australian squad for the fifth-annual IRB U21s World Championships in France.
Fainga’a won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Huia Edmonds in the 49-3 victory over Fiji in Canberra. He earned a further 10 Test caps that year including his first in a run-on XV, the 27-17, 1st Test win over England in Perth. In the 2nd Test against New Zealand in Christchurch he and Anthony became the first set of twins to start a Test for the Wallabies since Mark and Glen Ella in 1983.
Fainga’a played five Tests throughout 2011 and was selected to a first Rugby World Cup where he came off the bench in the pool game against Russia and again in the third-place playoff against Wales.
He won just two replacement caps as he sat behind Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau in the hooker pecking order.
Fainga’a enjoyed a far more fruitful 2013 as he earned 11 caps from a possible 15 internationals.
Fainga’a was recalled to win a first run-on Test start in four years - against South Africa in Cape Town - as he became the fifth Wallaby to wear the the jinxed No. 2 jersey in just eight internationals. He went on to collect seven caps over the course of the season, all as the starting hooker, in what proved to be his final season of international rugby.