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‘Earn his position’: Eddie Jones’ message for Wallaby Mark Nawaqanitawase

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones insists winger Mark Nawaqanitawase will have to “earn his position back in the squad” after re-signing with Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs until the end of 2024.


Nawaqanitawase entered the fray of international rugby during last year’s end-of-season tour, and proved to be a revelation for the Wallabies during his three Test matches.

The winger made his Test debut against Italy in Florence, before lacing up the boots for a second time as a Wallaby against World No. 1 Ireland in Dublin a week later.

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But, as rugby fans around the world may remember, Nawaqanitawase really made his name as a Wallaby during a thrilling comeback win over Wales at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

The Wallabies were down by 19-points in their final Test of the season, and appeared to be heading towards an historic defeat – it would’ve made 2022 their worst campaign since 1958.

But Nawaqanitawase had other plans. The rising star scored two tries in 10 minutes, which prompted an incredible resurgence from the Wallabies.

The men in gold won the Test 39-34, and Nawaqanitawase was named the player of the match. At that moment, many expected the winger to star in 2023 – predicting him to make the World Cup squad.


On Thursday, Rugby Australia confirmed that Nawaqanitawase had signed a new deal with the organisation, which will see him remain Down Under until at least the end of the 2024 season.

Reflecting on the opportunity to remain in Australia, Nawaqanitawase said he’s “looking forward to playing my part” in any success at both Super Rugby Pacific and Test level.

“I’m really happy to re-sign with the Waratahs and Australian Rugby,” Nawaqanitawase said in a statement.

“This is where I started my rugby journey, and I’m proud to continue representing my state and the Wallabies.


“We’ve got a great group of players and coaches both here and in the national set up, and I’m looking forward to playing my part in the success of both teams in the future.”

While last year’s heroics will go down in Australian Rugby history, Nawaqanitawase hasn’t exactly been promised a spot in the Wallabies’ World Cup squad to go to France later this year.

Nawaqanitawase has impressed on the wing for the Waratahs this season, and was included in Eddie Jones’ first Wallabies squad for a training camp on the Gold Coast last month.

But the job’s not finished. Nothing is guaranteed.

Jones said that while Nawaqanitawase was “impressive” for the Wallabies last year, the winger will still need to “earn” his spot in the squad.

“Mark was impressive in his games for the Wallabies in Europe, but it is a new season in 2023 and he has to earn his position back in the squad,” Jones said.

“He is fast and strong and he scores some spectacular tries, but he’s at his best when he’s doing the hard yards for his team and working off the ball.”

Nawaqanitawase grew up in Sydney and attended St Patricks College, before going on to play for the NSW Waratahs Academy and Eastwood.

The winger impressed for the Junior Wallabies during their World Rugby U20 Championships campaign in Argentina four years ago, having scored a try in the first minute of the decider.

After impressive at Super Rugby level with the Waratahs, the 22-year-old was included in the Australia A side for the Pacific Cup and tour of Japan.

After impressing for the Wallabies last year, Nawaqanitawase has continued his impressive run and form with the Waratahs in Super Rugby Pacific.

Nawaqanitawase currently leads the New South Wales outfit for tackle breaks, running metres, offloads and carries.

“Mark is an exceptional talent who has come through the NSW Rugby pathways and we’re thrilled that he has decided to continue his development with us,” Waratahs coach Darren Coleman added.

“He’s an electric attacking player who has already made a significant impact at the highest levels of the game. We’re excited to see what he can achieve in the future.”

The Waratahs host the Fijian Drua at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium at 7.35pm AEST on Saturday.

This is the second match of an unmissable double header, with the Wallaroos set to host Fijiana in the earlier match.


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