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Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt’s candid response to Carter Gordon’s NRL move

By Finn Morton
Carter Gordon in action during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Georgia at Stade de France on September 09, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Coach Joe Schmidt has praised the trio of flyhalves picked in the Wallabies’ squad for the upcoming July internationals following the news that Carter Gordon is off to the NRL in 2025 & 2026 with the Gold Coast Titans.

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There was a fair bit of responsibility put on Gordon’s shoulders last year when then-coach Eddie Jones picked the youngster as the only flyhalf in the Wallabies’ World Cup squad. Ben Donaldson was also selected but was named as a utility.

Gordon only debuted in Wallaby gold earlier that year after coming off the bench in a heavy loss to South Africa, but the playmaker soon became the first-choice No. 10. But not even 12 months later, Gordon is set to jump codes after inking a deal in the NRL.

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The former Melbourne Rebels flyhalf has signed a two-year deal with the NRL club from next season, and Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt has decided not to select the pivot in the squad to take on Wales and Georgia.

Coach Schmidt has gone with Western Force No. 10 Ben Donaldson, Queensland Reds youngster Tom Lynagh and the relatively experienced Noah Lolesio. Those three men have shown in Super Rugby Pacific that they’re capable of taking that next step.

“I like Carter and I’d had a few discussions with him. It wasn’t probably as much of a shock to me as it may have been externally,” Schmidt told Michael Atkinson on Stan Sport.

“But at the same time, I’m really excited about what Ben Donaldson has demonstrated at the Force, what Tom Lynagh has delivered and Noah Lolesio, he’s done a great job with the Brumbies, leading them around the field, his goal-kicking is very much the most accurate.

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“There were aspects of Carter’s game that he was struggling with so there was still a bit of work still to do for Carter.

“In that context, I’m always disappointed not to have had the opportunity to work with him but I’m really excited by the opportunity I have, and the coaching group have, to work with the three 10s that we have selected.”

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But for all the praise and excitement that the trio of Donaldson, Lynagh and Lolesio offer, there’s no doubt Gordon’s departure is a tough blow for the Wallabies. Gordon brings something unique to the rugby union table and had the potential to rise much further.

After being thrown into the deep end with a maiden Test start against the All Blacks at the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground last year, Gordon was back in the No. 10 jumper one week later against the New Zealanders In Dunedin.

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The All Blacks had made 12 changes and so nearly paid the price as the visitors ran up a surprisingly dominant lead. Tate McDermott was impressive, but no team can put in a shift like that if their flyhalf isn’t executing to a high standard.

While the New Zealanders went on to snatch victory, the Wallabies had shown plenty of fight and character. Coach Schmidt was on “opposite sides” that day as an assistant with the All Blacks but made sure to congratulate Gordon.

“I spoke very briefly to Carter after the Dunedin Test last year when we were on opposite sides and respectfully said to him ‘well played.’ I thought he had a cracking first-half and he was part of the pressure that the Wallabies applied on that day… that was a Wallabies side that really got on top in that first half and Carter was part of that,” Schmidt explained.

“I think there’s always a context for everything and those three guys probably had done really well in Super Rugby.

“Right back to Super Round, Carter was one of the key aspects in turning the game against the Force. They were under pressure the Rebels, Carter got the intercept and got away. He made a great chase tackle I think against the Waratahs.

“There were glimpses of what he’s capable of.”

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Adam 16 days ago

For me, the three selections are all a better choice than Carter. He won't be missed

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Tom 38 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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