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'He wants to come to league': Speculation swirls over Wallabies star's future

By Ben Smith
Mark Nawaqanitawase of Australia walks out for the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Fiji at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 17, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The future of Wallabies star Mark Nawaqanitawase in the 15-man code could be up in the air after a bombshell meeting between the winger and the Roosters NRL club.

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After a report by the Sydney Morning Herald detailed a scheduled meeting between the Waratah and the Roosters, the journalists behind the report have confirmed that it took place and revealed that Nawaqanitawase “wants to move”.

Nicknamed Marky Mark, the 23-year-old was one of the best Wallabies players this year in a troubled side that struggled to get wins.

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The Wallabies were sent into turmoil after the sacking of Dave Rennie less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup, and things went from bad to worse under returning coach Eddie Jones, who has since left.

Nawaqanitawase debuted under Rennie and starred with two tries against Wales in Cardiff and was a mainstay of Jones’ side.

“The Roosters met with Mark Nawaqanitawase last week,” league journalist Michael Chammas explained on LiSTNR Sport’s Footy Talk League Podcast.

“I think they met on Tuesday then, and I’m pretty sure the Roosters are going to put an offer to him.

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Rugby league reporter Danny Wielder interjected to ask: “he wants to come to league?”

“He wants to come to league,” Chammas continued, “I think this has been going on in the background for some months.

“He’s been unsettled prior to the World Cup, he’s gone over there and probably been the Wallabies best player in a disappointing World Cup campaign.

“Now the Roosters have identified him as a potential winger to replace Daniel Tupou.”

Rugby league are launching a counter-offensive against union in Australia with salary cap exemptions for signing players outside of the NRL which would make a deal for Nawaqanitawase possible for the Roosters.

The signing is viewed as a revenge deal after Rugby Australia swooped in to take young Roosters star Joseph Suaali’i on a monstrous three-year deal from 2025.

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With the British & Irish Lions tour on the horizon in 2025 and with Australia hosting the 2027 Rugby World Cup, the best time to be in the Wallabies set-up is arguably coming up.

It would be a big blow to Australian Rugby to lose such a game-breaking talent but with instability at the top in Rugby Australia and the Wallabies not having a coach currently, uncertainty surrounds the Wallabies.

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