Rob Valetini is closing in on a Wallaby cap – find out more about the back-rower here

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Brumbies back-row Rob Valetini

Date of birth 3 Sept 1998 Born Melbourne Team Brumbies Country Australia Position Back-row

How did you get into rugby?

I was young, four or five, and it was at my local club, Quins in Melbourne. All my brothers were playing at the time – I’ve got seven.

What was it like growing up with so many brothers?

Good, we played rugby all the time. They picked on me a bit but that was good; you toughen up early.

What positions have you played?

I started on the wing, then I got a bit chubby at U14-16 so I moved to the forwards. I wouldn’t change it – I love getting my hands on the ball.

Did you have any childhood heroes?

In high school it was Poey (David Pocock). And Izzy (Folau) – he was born in Melbourne
and played for the Storm back then.

What was it like being in Wallabies camp with them?

Just being able to rub shoulders with them is pretty cool. I know Poey from the Brumbies and when I first met him I was a bit starstruck as that was who I looked up to.

Brumbies back-row Rob Valetini

Learning curve: Rob Valetini tries to tackle Israel Folau in Wallabies training (Getty Images)

When did you join the Brumbies?

I moved after school, when I was 18. It was a big change but I had a lot of time to get my head around it. Canberra is a lot quieter than Melbourne, but it’s good.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?

My dad’s been supportive ever since I was young and has been on the sidelines. He grew up in Fiji and played in the back row too – Quins brought him over 30-odd years ago.

How did you find 2018?

It was tough. I want to play rugby and unfortunately I couldn’t do that through injury. Still, I got to go on tour with the Wallabies. I tried to learn a lot of new things and gain some experience.

What do you do away from rugby?

Just a bit of PS4 – Fortnite.

What are your goals for this year?

To try to stay injury-free. One of my goals is the World Cup and I’ll only get there with good performances, so I’m focused on playing good rugby for the Brumbies first.

RW VERDICT: A long-term knee injury stalled Valetini’s progress last year but he’s highly thought of in Aussie rugby circles. If he puts together a good run of form, he’s being backed to be the Toutai Kefu-type figure the Wallabies have been seeking.

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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