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Ex-Wallaby Carter Gordon granted early release to join NRL club Titans

By Finn Morton
Carter Gordon of Australia lines up a penalty during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 05, 2023 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Peter Meecham/Getty Images)

Former Wallabies flyhalf Carter Gordon has officially completed an early switch from rugby union to the NRL after linking up with the Gold Coast Titans for the remainder of the season.

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Gordon, 23, stunned Australian rugby fans and made international sporting headlines last month after putting pen to paper with the Queensland rugby league club for the next two years.

But coach Joe Schmidt threw another curveball by leaving Gordon and fellow NRL-bound Wallaby Mark Nawaqanitawase out of the Wallabies squad for the July internationals.

It was reported earlier this week that the duo would be granted an early release from their deals with Rugby Australia, and that has since proven to be the case. The Sydney Roosters confirmed that Nawaqanitawase would join the Tricolours after the Paris Olympics this month.

Gordon trained with the Titans on Wednesday and has begun “his integration” into the club before moving into the top 30 NRL squad from next season. For now, the playmaker is part of their extended squad.

“It’s exciting to be joining early and I’m really eager to come in with an open mind and learn from the squad who have been playing rugby league their whole lives,” Gordon told titans.com.au.

“This game is something I’ve always been interested in, so I’m excited to begin the transition and to get the chance to start training early is something I’m really grateful for.

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“He’s now started his integration and trained with us this morning as he begins his development and education… but we’re not going to rush him,” coach Des Hasler added on Wednesday.

“It’s certainly beneficial for him and the team in the long run.”

As it was mentioned above, Gordon isn’t the only Super Rugby and Wallabies star making the move to the rival code with Mark Nawaqanitawase penning a two-year deal with the Roosters.

Nawaqanitawase reportedly met with coach Trent Robinson after last year’s Rugby World Cup disaster and the Wallaby put pen to paper for 2025 and 2026 not long after in December.

But before making the move to rugby league, Nawaqaniatwase is focused on the Olympic Games after being unveiled as a surprise inclusion in Australia’s men’s squad on Wednesday. Nawaqaniatwase didn’t play a single event on the SVNS Series but has spent the last fortnight training with the sevens squad.

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“We’re delighted to announce the 2024 Paris Olympic squad – a squad that we’re confident will represent Australia with pride and performance,” coach John Manenti said.

“The group has over 330 World Series tournaments of experience, five previous Olympians and seven debutants.

“We welcome Corey Toole and Mark Nawaqaniatwase back to the squad, both of whom have had seamless transitions and add an x-factor to our well-established combinations.

“We had a really good two weeks in Fiji and Darwin recently and that along with our solid season has the team really well prepared for Paris.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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