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‘No one better’: Why Carter Gordon was destined to face the All Blacks

By Finn Morton
Carter Gordon poses during a Wallabies Rugby Championship Headshots Session at Sanctuary Cove on June 26, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Hoping to prove themselves to new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, the best rugby players in Australia assembled for a three-day training camp under the sweltering sun on the Gold Coast in April.

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With the upcoming Rugby World Cup just a matter of months away, the 33-man squad had their first opportunity to impress Jones in a Wallabies environment.

Some players were one and done, and have at least so far failed to return to the Wallabies setup under Jones. But others took the opportunity with both hands.

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There is simply no better example than flyhalf Carter Gordon.

Three months on from that camp, Gordon has been named to start his first Test for the Wallabies. The 22-year-old will run out in the No. 10 jersey against the All Blacks at the MCG.

Gordon is coming off a breakout Super Rugby Pacific campaign with the Melbourne Rebels, and was a fan-favourite bolter ahead of The Rugby Championship and beyond.

Sporting a luxurious blonde mullet, Gordon doesn’t fit the image of a stereotypical rugby union flyhalf – and that’s a very good thing.

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The Brisbane Boys’ College Old Boy is a tough defender, talented playmaker, and is able to wreak havoc with his lightning-quick pace. There’s plenty to like about Carter Gordon.

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Coach Jones revealed on Thursday that he knew back at that camp in Queensland that Gordon was “100 per cent” going to play for the Wallabies this year.

“If you look back at players, past great 10s, he’s got a bit of a mixture of Butch James defensively, like he’s a tough kid,” Jones told reporters. “Then he’s got that little bit of a glide that Larkham had.

“He can take the ball at pace, he’s got a good short passing game and he’s got a good long passing game.”

Following two losses in as many starts under coach Jones, the Wallabies will be both eager and desperate to bounce back when they run out in front of 80,000 fans at the MCG on Saturday.

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With the Bledisloe on the line, Jones has turned to a new-look halves combination. The coach has picked Reds co-captain Tate McDermott alongside Gordon.

The selection of Gordon in particular is nothing short of bold, but the potential of the young talent is too good to ignore.

“Well it’s a Bledisloe Cup game, it’s his hometown, it’s the best game to make a debut,” Jones added. “We always wanted to, in the leadup to the World Cup.”

“There’s two things here, we’ve got the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday but also because of the timing of how I’ve come into the job of preparing for the World Cup. I’m trying to do two things at once.

“No one better than against the Kiwis.”

“Just the way he keeps preparing, keeps improving himself. His ability to recover from mistakes has improved immeasurably even in the short time he’s been with us.

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“For most players that’s one of the key areas of their game… your ability to recovery from an error and get onto the next thing is so important.”

Coach Jones has swung the axe through his Wallabies starting side following their thrilling loss to Argentina in Sydney earlier this month.

Jones has made seven changes, with the likes of Angus Bell, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Jordan Petaia and Andrew Kellaway also coming into the first XV.

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in the first of two Bledisloe Cup Tests on Saturday night at the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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Shaylen 7 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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