It’s impossible to quantify the importance of an Australian professional Rugby player's support network. Friends, family, teammates and Club staff all play a huge role in every RUPA member's pursuit of success on and off the field, and Melbourne Rebels star Colby Fainga’a is no different.
Canberra-born and raised Colby hails from a very close family; his two eldest brothers Anthony and Saia are Wallabies, while his other brother Vili is a Tongan international. Then there's also the three key women in his life; mum Cindy, little sister Hulita and fiancée Loren Moore, who spoke to RUPA about her and Colby's move to Melbourne nearly three years ago and how they continue to support one another in their career ambitions.
Loren Moore on Instagram: âWhat a morning!! Champagne brekky before heading to the races and my best friend asked me to MARRY HIM! WE'RE ENGAGED!! @colbyfaingaaâ
âWhat a morning!! Champagne brekky before heading to the races and my best friend asked me to MARRY HIM! WE'RE ENGAGED!! @colbyfaingaaâ
Loren and Colby have been together for five and half years, meeting in Canberra after school and moving to Melbourne when Colby signed for the Rebels ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season having played 34 times for the Brumbies. Having recently finished her law degree Loren works at the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) in Melbourne, transferring offices when the duo left home behind for their Victorian adventure.
“When we moved to Melbourne, it was actually the first time we’d lived together so it played a part in what was quite an overwhelming decision for us to make,” Loren recalls. “Colby has always been a very family-oriented person.
“He cares a lot about his younger sister and he has had a lot to do with raising her so leaving Canberra was a big call. He also wanted to make sure it was something that I wanted to do; he actually said he wouldn’t leave if I didn’t come with him! I told him that if it was something he wanted to do then I would be behind him 100% and he should go for it, and we haven’t looked back since.”
Settling into Melbourne was made even easier in two ways; first, with (now) two-year-old puppy Lexie joining the family, but also through the support of RUPA PDM Cameron Yorke, Player Development Manager at the Rebels who is responsible for helping players settle in a city where over 90% of the squad hail from interstate or overseas.
“Cam played a big part in helping us move to a new, big city; one of the things you worry about living in a new place is going out and meeting people, but he brought both of us straight into the Rebels family like he has with all new players,” Loren says.
“He organises lots of things for the partners, emails us regularly so we feel included and know what’s going on, and he also makes sure that both the players and the partners feel comfortable going to him if we are worried about anything. He definitely played a really big role in making our first year in Melbourne as enjoyable and stress free as it was.
“I grew up with Rugby in the family; my dad played a lot of Rugby himself, so I’ve always loved and understood the game. All the partners look forward to game day and we even have our own WhatsApp group so we can chat during the week and work out if we’re going to go out after the game and things like that; we have relaxed Club functions together before and after the game with friends and family.
Loren admits, however, that the life as partner of a professional athlete impacts just how much game day can be enjoyed; there’s the disappointment that comes with poor performances, either individually or as a team, as well as dealing with inevitable injury setbacks.
“I really believe that there is a big misconception that if you’re with a footballer you’ll automatically have a perfect little life, but it’s not necessarily the case at all,” she explains. “Rugby plays a huge part in our lives, and your life does revolve around how the team plays and whether they win or lose to a degree.
“After a game Colby always texts me because he knows I’ll be honest with him when he asks how he’s played. After the game in Perth against the Western Force in Round One I told him he’d played brilliantly, but then he wrote back and said he’d hurt his elbow and was going to be out injured for a while.
“As soon as he got back to Melbourne he was down in the dumps a bit, but I try to take it on board and feel it’s part of my role to try and put things into perspective for him and explain that four to six weeks out is better than ten to twelve. The glass is always half full is the way we try and look at it!
“I do feel that it is my role to be really supportive of Colby and make sure he’s eating as well as possible, for example, or if he comes home and feels like he has had a bad day at training it’s my role to try and be positive and improve his mood.”
Fortunately, Loren assures me that Colby provides that same support and guidance for her in his role as a supportive partner.
“I can’t fault Colby as a partner; he’s a gentle giant, he is incredibly supportive and he has always said that the reason we are so close is because we are both very ambitious and driven by our careers, so therefore we admire one another and support each other,” she says.
Sharing the downs is outweighed by the fun and joy sharing the positives brings, and Loren is quick to name her favourite moment during Colby’s career thus far.
“When Colby scored against the Blues at AAMI Park last year, I’ll never forget that because it was such a great try! I was in the crowd with one of our closest friends down in Melbourne, and when he scored we both jumped up and our drinks went flying up in the air; we were on a high for the rest of the night and we were so caught up in that moment, so whenever I look back on that memory I just laugh! Moments like that are what it’s all about – it’s so worth it!”
While Loren will officially join the family after their wedding in late December, she’s been around the Fainga’a clan for long enough to be able to easily provide insight into how close the siblings are despite being separated between Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne.
“All four of the boys are quite competitive; they are very close knit and all the stories of them growing up revolve around playing sport together,” she says. “They’re very funny in that they all have little digs at one another, but I think the fact that they are so competitive has helped them achieve what they have, and they’ve all pushed each other.
“(Colby’s sister) Hulita’s a real little character and she loves that she has four Rugby stars as big brothers; that makes her quite popular with the other kids at school! She absolutely idolises and adores Colby and that’s because he is all about his family; his mum and little sister come first.”
With Colby potentially back in action as soon as Round Six, look out for a big second half of the season from this young star. After recently re-signing with the Rebels until the end of 2018 he’s on target to reach a century of Super Rugby caps in the next two years, despite still being a week short of his 25th birthday, and you’d be a brave man to bet against him joining his three older brothers by playing in his first Test match in the near future!