They call themselves the “Burn Boyz”, the Victorian lads flying the flag for home grown talent, fighting the underdog fight to make it all the way to the top.
On Friday night against the Waratahs, the Melbourne Rebels will boast four Victorians in the line-up, with 20-year-old Trevor Hosea joining the ranks of starters when he makes his run-on debut.
He joins Pone Fa’amausili, Hosea’s regular lift to training from Melbourne’s southeast and his roommate in their Canberra hub, Rob Leota and Wallaby Jordan Uelese as players who navigated the tough Victorian pathway to now find themselves leading the way for others.
“We’ve pretty much come up through the ranks together and seen each other come through the hard times,” Hosea said from his hotel room in the nation’s capital.
“We’ve been grinding for a while and it’s good to see us all on the field at once. And now it’s time for us to shine.”
There are more than just the four Burn Boyz, with others having come and gone in recent years.
But that spirit that binds them remains an important mental weapon, to keep them going when the rugby world is looking elsewhere for talent.
“It’s the mentality we grow up with, the Burn Boyz, we’re the underdogs, we’re the grinders of the team,” Hosea said.
“It was the older boys, Jordan and Pone, and a few of the boys that have left that set that little group up, and it’s carried on with all the young guys coming through the ranks, like myself. We fit right in to that idea we have going.
“It’s hard to explain, it’s just a bond we have, and a mentality too. It’s us being the underdogs, to have that mentality to work hard to get on top.
“It’s a massive part of me, it’s a mindset, it’s a family.
“And playing for that jersey, it’s got Melbourne on it, It just means so much for us.”
Standing 203 cm, and weighing 115kgs, it wasn’t hard for Hosea to stand out among the teen rugby ranks in Melbourne.
But the giant lock conceded he didn’t find his rugby “mojo” until he was 16, after which he was sent off to hone his craft at school in Brisbane.
Hosea became a junior Wallaby, recognition of his talent, but he only ever wanted to play for Melbourne.
Burn Boyz leader Jordan Uelese in his Wallaby gear. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Now he wants to emulate his Burn Boyz idol, Uelese, who has made that leap to play for his country.
“Especially when I was younger, Jordan and those guys were the ones setting the bar for us coming up, and they were the target,” Hosea said.
“They put the bar pretty high and chasing that has made us want to be better.”
There’s a WhatsApp group, and regular catch ups between the Burn Boyz for breakfasts and lunches.
They even have their own flag.
“We have the chequered flag, it’s a symbol we use,” Hosea said.
“It brings our own little flavour to the team. We could see them waving chequered flags in the stands at AAMI Park when we get back there. That would be cool.”
Rebels coach Dave Wessels has embraced the Burn Boyz, for what they bring to the team.
“He sees the spark we bring to the team,” Hosea said.
“The whole team is real tight, you can see when we are playing, we are playing for each other.”
And for the next generation, which Hosea hopes the Burn Boyz can inspire.
“That’s the message from us for sure, just keep grinding, keep doing your thing, and the hard work will pay off,” he said.
“That’s what we have been doing, just kept at it, the results do come.”
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