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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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2 Comments
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CO 238 days ago

Mark’s definitely a quality player, ultimately though with his skillset he could travel the world in Japan and France whilst timing his run to represent the Wallabies at world cups or he could play a game barely played outside Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.

Mark’s contracted until the end of 2024 so theoretically he could try to play league for 2025 but by 2026 he'd want to be back playing rugby to prepare for the rugby world cup in Australia in 2027.

It could improve his workrate as he doesn't really come in looking for work as much as he could and probably will as he gets to his peak.

The roosters are by all accounts a good league side to head to if you want to try out in league but surely it would be wiser to take the money offshore in rugby for a season in 2025 as he then won't have to transition between two quite different games these days.

f
frandinand 241 days ago

We have to wonder how many more of Hamish’s mistakes are going to haunt us.

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Tim 6 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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