'Keep earning that jersey': How Jones is mentoring his young playmaker
He’s the golden child of Eddie Jones but that doesn’t mean Carter Gordon hasn’t had some tough chats with the Wallabies coach through their World Cup campaign.
Gordon, 22, was made first-choice five-eighth by master coach Jones, ignoring the World Cup claims of veteran Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley.
With six Tests to his name, he will again lead the Australian backline in their key pool C clash with Fiji at Saint-Etienne on Sunday (Monday AEST).
The young Queenslander, who plays for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby, said Jones had given him the freedom to run the attack but didn’t leave him to sink or swim.
“He’s been good … kind of leaving me to find it and then coming to me when he sees things but I feel like he’s managed me well,” Gordon said of Jones.
“Obviously had a few tough conversations there – he’s come in and said, ‘Mate, you need to be here, you need to be doing this’.
“I’ll bloody take that with both hands every time because it’s such good feedback from him.
“Other times he’s kind of just let me go out there and do my thing and kind of find it for myself so I think he’s been really good in that area.
“He’s put his belief in me, but obviously he still expects me to train really hard and play really hard and keep earning that jersey and not letting it get away.”
A win over Fiji will all but guarantee the Wallabies a spot alongside Wales in the quarter-finals with the top two pool teams advancing.
Lose and it all goes on the line in their third pool match against the Welsh in Lyon.
Usually in the frontline of attack, Gordon played back and was heavily involved in Australia’s kicking game to topple Georgia 35-15 in Paris to open their tournament.
He said they would need to tweak their tactics against the Fijians and hinted they would employ more of a running game.
“He just wants me to get my hands on the ball a little bit more at the moment,” Carter said of his coach’s instructions.
“So, when there’s turnover and things like that he just wants me to get my hands on the ball, get in the play, or be directing play. That’s the message for me at the moment.”
Fullback Ben Donaldson replaced Carter as the Wallabies’ goal kicker against Georgia last weekend and booted six from seven so is expected to retain the role.
Gordon will also have a new starting halves partner, with Tate McDermott ruled out after a head knock.
Gordon, who has cut off his trademark blond mullet, said he wasn’t bothered about handing over the kicking duties and it was a joint decision between Jones, Donaldson and himself.
“It’s the same role regardless on the field, it’s just whoever kicks is different … I’ll still prep the same every week,” he said.
“It’s always good having another kicking option in the back line. That’s always going to relieve pressure pretty much regardless of what team you’re in.”
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